SEATTLE (CN) – Seattle SuperSonics former owner Howard Schultz has gone to Federal Court to try to rescind the sale of the team. Schultz claims the Oklahoma City business group that bought the franchise lied about keeping the Sonics in Seattle. The NBA board of governors recently voted to approve the Sonics’ move to Oklahoma City.
Schultz, who is chairman of the board of Starbucks, filed the action as a derivative complaint alleging fraud and misrepresentation. He seeks to “deprive the Oklahoma City group of the fruits of its deception” and asks for a judgment that the sale of the Sonics was fraudulently induced.
“Defendant fraudulently induced BCOS [plaintiff, the Basketball Club of Seattle] to sell the Sonics to it, and actively concealed that deception,” the complaint states. “These Oklahoma City businessmen wanted a team that would play in Oklahoma City – not Seattle. They were willing to lie, and did lie, to complete the deal.”
Clay Bennett, who lead the buyers’ group, publicly stated his intentions to keep the Sonics in Seattle “for decades to come,” but the complaint claims that in an e-mail Bennett wrote two days before the sale, Bennett said the Oklahoma City group could sell the team in a “sweet flip” if they were forced to stay in Seattle.
The complaint states that another buyer, Aubrey McClendon, was fined $250,000 by the NBA for publicly stating after the sale, “We didn’t buy the team to keep it in Seattle.”
Schultz demands “declaratory judgment that the Purchase Agreement was induced by fraud and is therefore voidable at the option of BCOS”.
Plaintiff The Basketball Club of Seattle LLC, of Washington state, is represented by Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo. The defendant is The Professional Basketball Club LLC, of Oklahoma.