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Great Baseball Parking Lot Fiasco Continues

DALLAS (CN) - In a continuing legal saga over a Texas Rangers parking lot, a Dallas law firm claims part of its contingent fee from a lawsuit against the former team owner is going unfairly to JPMorgan Chase bank.

Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox LLP sued JPMorgan Chase, Texas Rangers Baseball Partners, its court-appointed post-bankruptcy administrator Alan Jacobs, and Monarch Alternative Capital, in Dallas County Court.

It's part of a long drawn-out fight over ownership of and revenue from parking lots outside the sports stadium.

Lynn Tillotson claim that in 2011, the baseball team and Jacobs hired it and Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr to pursue claims against Hicks and Ballpark Real Estate. The lawsuit involved the purchase, or alleged purchase, of parking lots around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium, before the bankruptcy.

Lynn Tillotson then filed separate lawsuits against Hicks, in Dallas County Court and in federal bankruptcy court.

JPMorgan served as the agent for a group of Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (TRBP) creditors, who were the ultimate beneficiaries of the litigation.

The parties settled the litigation in January, requiring the sale of certain assets, which was to close last week, according to the complaint.

Texas Rangers Baseball Partners and creditors are to receive proceeds of the sale, with Lynn Tillotson firm having a contingent fee interest in the proceeds.

"Plaintiff also recently learned that TRBP and JPMorgan have negotiated an escrow agreement that would set aside certain limited proceeds for payment of attorneys' fees, but would distribute to JPMorgan other proceeds that should go to plaintiff as part of its contingent fee interest," the complaint states.

"Upon leaning of the escrow agreement, plaintiff asserted its attorney fee interest in the asset sale proceeds and requested modification of the escrow agreement. Defendants have refused to modify the escrow agreement."

Lynn Tillotson claims that JPMorgan refused to disclose the identity of the escrow agent for its agreement with TRBP, which Lynn Tillotson needs to assert its assignment and lien.

"Counsel for JPMorgan refused to provide the requested information, stating that 'We're not going to make this easy for you,'" the complaint states. "Plaintiff has also not been able to obtain this information from Munsch Hardt, who apparently has been instructed by defendant Jacobs to not provide this information."

Lynn Tillotson says it will be irreparably harmed by disbursement of sale proceeds because TRBP is a bankrupt entity that sold all of its assets to the current owners of the team, Rangers Baseball Express, in May 2010.

Rangers Baseball Express is an investment group headed by team CEO Nolan Ryan and is not a party to any of the lawsuits.

In their lawsuit against Hicks, TRBP and Jacobs claimed he "continually breached his fiduciary duties to the Texas Rangers by using tens of millions of dollars of the Texas Rangers' money to pay the acquisition costs for land and to build parking lots and roads for the Hicks-owned entity called Ballpark Real Estate LP - an entity that ... now generates millions of dollars per year in parking revenue on events at Cowboys Stadium and is worth between $51.5 million and $75 million."

The Rangers' current owners sued Hicks in August 2011 in Tarrant County Court, accusing his entities of demanding outrageous rent for the parking lots, even though a Fort Worth Bankruptcy Court ordered it negotiate an agreement at fair market value.

"In total indifference to the LUA [land use agreement], BRE and Hicks Holdings have tried to saddle the Rangers with a $3.5 million rental charge for use of the BRE property," the complaint stated. "This would equate to almost twice the amount the Rangers pay the City of Arlington to lease the entire ballpark."

The Rangers settled their claims in March 2012 by entering into a multi-year agreement with the Hicks-controlled entity.

Now Lynn Tillotson seeks an injunction halting the sale of the assets and an order permitting its deposition of Jacobs, Monarch's counsel Andrew Herenstein and Andrew Leblanc, bank counsel Robert Malionek and bank representative Manochere Alamgir, to investigate whether Monarch interfered with Lynn Tillotson's engagement letter.

Lynn Tillotson is represented by its own attorney Michael Lynn in Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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