Dodger Ownership Turns on Marital Property Agreement

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Lawyers in the divorce battle to decide ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, delivered their opening statements last week with Jamie McCourt’s lawyer saying, “Jamie believed that all they owned belonged to both of them.”

     Representing husband Frank McCourt, Steven Susman countered said that they signed an agreement separating personal and business assets that Jamie later claimed to not understand.
     With the Los Angeles firm of Susman Godfrey, the husband’s lawyer said all the personal assets such as their homes in Malibu, California belong to wife Jamie while all the business assets belong to Frank.
     “Jamie never questioned that assumption of division of the assets,” Susman said.
Representing Jamie, Dennis Wasser with Wasser, Cooperman and Carter stated that all their assets were joint assets and they were never separated.
     All their properties are joint properties, he said, and both husband and wife treated the Dodgers as something they both owned.
     “The Dodgers organization treated them both as owners,” Wasser said.”The parties both worked and treated the Dodgers as something they both owned.”
     A subsequent revision of their marital agreement is invalid and unenforceable, he said, because it was the product of a mistake. “He (Frank) breached the fiduciary duty to Jamie,” Wasser said.
     On that point, Frank’s lawyer Susman said it is hard to believe that a very educated woman and lawyer like Jamie did not understand the Marital Property Agreement she proposed and signed.
     Susman said that Jamie never questioned that the business assets would go to Frank and the personal assets would go to her. He accused Jamie of twisting a simple mistake made on their agreement to gain advantage in the divorce.
     “Jamie is trying to twist the drafted assembly error,” he said. “What he did was so innocuous and so insignificant that it didn’t change the agreement much,” Susman said.
      Susman also brought up the difference between California’s and Massachusetts’ property division rule. He said that California allows each individual to keep their separate property and that was what Jamie exactly did by making sure that the homes were under her name.
     “Jamie wants to protect her asset – her nest eggs,” Susman said.
     As the very first witness of the trial, McCourts’ estate planning lawyer testified that both Frank and Jamie misunderstood their Martial Property Agreement and Jamie’s goal in arranging the Marital Property Agreement was to financially secure herself.
     “Jamie was concerned that they borrowed out the house equity … the exact opposite of the creditor protection she was hoping for,” Leah Bishop said.
     When Jamie’s representative asked Bishop what Frank said when she corrected their misunderstanding, the Loeb & Loeb attorney said that Frank told her to fix the agreement and “do whatever to make Jamie feel secure.”
     During that meeting, Bishop testified that “Jamie said if I’m going to be your life partner, them I’m going to be your business partner.”

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