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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

V. Stiviano Will Appeal|$2.6 Million Judgment

LOS ANGELES (CN) - V. Stiviano will appeal a court order to repay Shelly Sterling $2.6 million for gifts former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lavished on her, Stiviano's attorney said Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin issued a tentative ruling Tuesday in favor of Shelly Sterling, who sued Stiviano in civil court last year.

In her March 2014 complaint, Shelly Sterling said her husband had bought Stiviano a Ferrari, a Bentley and a Range Rover and a $1.8 million Spanish-style duplex without her permission. She said she never authorized the purchases made using community property and that Stiviano had refused to return them.

Donald Sterling was not a party to the lawsuit.

Fruin ordered Stiviano to return the $1.8 million duplex and $830,000 in cash. Stiviano must return $430,000 in cash gifts. The remaining $400,000 is for reimbursement for the 2012 Ferrari, 2007 Bentley and 2013 Range Rover.

Shelly Sterling's lead attorney Pierce O'Donnell said his client is "thrilled."

"This is certainly a victory for the Sterling family, whose funds were dissipated by Donald to lavish millions of dollars of gifts on a conniving mistress," O'Donnell said in a statement. "The decision also has broader significance in today's society. Shelly has set a precedent indicating the rights of all spouses to protect their community property."

Stiviano's attorney Mac Nehoray said Wednesday that she would appeal.

"We are very disappointed," Nehoray told the L.A. times. "Judges are supposed to interpret the laws, not make them."

During a three-day bench trial in March, Shelly Sterling claimed that the gifts were bought using marital property, including assets from the company used to manage their apartment buildings, Beverly Hills Properties.

Donald Sterling lost his NBA team after audiotapes were made public in which he criticized Stiviano for going to Clippers games with black men.

During the trial, the court heard testimony from forensic accountant Jay Shapiro, who said Sterling had spent $400,000 on vehicles for Stiviano, as much as $1.2 million in cash, and $200,000 on credit card charges.

Stiviano testified that she worked for the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation and that her relationship with the former Clippers owner was purely platonic.

But at other times she called Donald her "significant other" and said she had wanted to marry him.

Shelly and Donald Sterling also testified .

Shelly blamed Stiviano for releasing the tape that led to the Sterlings losing their interest in the Clippers.

Donald Sterling was also damning of Stiviano.

"She has no money. We're talking about someone who's indigent, on relief," Donald Sterling said. "Her whole family is indigent. All 30 of them are on state aid."

Shelly Sterling's claims hinged partly on proving that her 60-year marriage was still intact during a fractious period where their son Scott died of an overdose and Shelly had gone to court to push through the Clippers sale.

Stiviano argued that the Sterlings were separated when she received the gifts from 2011 to 2014.

Fruin ruled: "The court finds that Shelly Sterling and Donald Sterling did not live 'separate and apart' from each other during any part of the period 2011 through 2014. Their marriage had difficulties in 2013 and 2014, and plaintiff admits that in a televised interview with Barbara Walters (aired in May, 2014) she said she was estranged from her husband. However, the parties continued to live together, to travel together, to hold parties together and to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries together."

Fruin did not award Shelly Sterling $200,000 for charges made on Donald Sterling's credit cards. The judge said the court had "no credible basis" to rule because it was unclear from financial records if the charges were for Stiviano.

The tentative order will become final if there are no objections or requests for modifications filed within 15 days.

Nehoray did not immediately respond to a request for an interview with Courthouse News.

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