LOS ANGELES (CN) – The estranged wife of embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling asked a probate judge Wednesday to affirm her authority to negotiate the sale of the team as the head of the Sterling Trust.
Rochelle Sterling filed an ex parte petition seeking affirmation not only of her authority as one half of the Sterling Trust, but also that her negotiations to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were intended to protect the team from both her husband and the NBA.
In her petition, Sterling – who also goes by Shelly – said that two doctors have determined that her 80-year-old husband suffers from “cognitive impairment” making him incapable of carrying out his duties as trustee of the Sterling Trust.
Sterling also acknowledged that the NBA is likely to renew its efforts to seize the team, since “it is the NBA’s position that every day Mr. Sterling remains an owner of the Clippers causes additional damage not only to the trust, but to the team and the NBA,” according to her petition.
In addition to the possibility of the league renewing its efforts to seize the Clippers, Sterling must also contend with her estranged husband’s fight over his lifetime ban from the NBA. Donald sued the league for $1 billion last month over the ban and forced sale of the Clippers after audio recordings of racist comments he made to then-girlfriend V. Stiviano came to light.
“Although at times Donald has consented to the sale, he has repeatedly changed his mind,” Sterling said in her petition. “On May 22, Donald represented to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that he agreed to a sale of his interest in the Clippers and specifically authorized his wife to negotiate a sale. A week later, he refused to consent to the sale despite the staggering sale price. Then on June 5, Donald announced through his attorney Max Blecher that he consented to the sale. By June 9, Donald had again made a complete about-face.”
Sterling said that under the binding terms imposed by the NBA, a court can confirm her authority to unilaterally take control of the Sterling Trust if her husband refuses to consent to the sale of the Clippers. But that process will take “much longer than either Ballmer or the NBA is willing to wait,” she said.
Apparently recognizing that time is of the essence – the NBA’s board of governors is slated to meet on July 15 and could take up the dispute of Donald Sterling’s ownership – the judge immediately scheduled a four-day trial to hear Shelly Sterling’s petition for July 7.
Shelly Sterling is represented by Pierce O’Donnell of the firm Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger in Los Angeles.
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