Apr 12, 2011, 8:24 AM EDT
Frank McCourt got sued yesterday by his former law firm, Bingham McCutchen. This is a suit for declaratory judgment, which for all practical purposes means that they sued McCourt because it was obvious that he was going to sue them, and they wanted to get the drop on him. Bingham (a) is asking for a declaration that it did no wrong when it represented McCourt and his wife when drafting up the marital property agreement that is the subject of the divorce case; and (b) is asking to get paid, because McCourt has apparently not done so.
Nor would I have, frankly, because Bingham screwed the pooch here. You’ll recall that the reason Jamie McCourt was declared to be a co-owner of the Dodgers in the lawsuit was because the judge invalidated the marital property agreement that was designed to cut her out. He did so because the Bingham lawyer who as in charge of it messed up and then replaced the document Frank McCourt thought he was getting — the one with him listed as sole owner of the Dodgers — for the mistaken one that showed Jamie as co-owner. Mistakes happen, but when you’re a lawyer you don’t fix ’em by pulling the old switcheroo. By doing so, the Bingham’s lawyer allowed Jamie to argue — against what seemed like common sense and the parties’ intentions — that, sure, she was always supposed to own the team. And now, legally speaking, she does.
It’s always better to be the plaintiff than a defendant, of course, especially because you get to pick the court and get the first crack at framing the issues. Bingham has done that, picking Massachusetts as the forum and casting this as a case in which McCourt’s damages are all of his own doing. I’m the last person who will deny that McCourt has shot himself in the foot several times, but boy howdy, is it a tough sell to say that his acts, as opposed to the incompetence of the Bingham lawyer in charge of the marital property agreement, are what led to the current fragmented state of the Dodgers ownership. And it has likely cost McCourt a couple hundred million dollars.
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