March 31, 2010
That Baseball Divorce…
Dodger’s owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie are in a Los Angeles courtroom where a judge is considering Jamie’s request for $1 million in monthly support from her husband. It seems like the first pitches of the baseball season were thrown in that Los Angeles courtroom less than two miles from Dodger Stadium.
The divorce case of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt began recently with attorneys trading barbs and accusing the other side of greed — much as pitchers try to intimidate hitters by throwing brushback pitches right under their chin.
Sorrell Trope, an attorney for Frank McCourt, compared estranged wife Jamie McCourt with 18th-century French queen Marie Antoinette and it was further inferred that seeking $988,845 in monthly spousal support payments is akin to an “Alice in Wonderland” fantasy.
Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt’s lawyers, called Frank McCourt “a poor billionaire” and rejected an offer of $125,000 a month in support.
Wasser, a member of the Wasser, Cooperman & Carter firm of Los Angeles, said Frank McCourt pays $40,000 a month to live in a rented condominium and spent $30,000 to attend the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Miami. Wasser said Jamie McCourt is entitled to a similar lifestyle, and needs almost half the $988,845 to pay her share of mortgages on the couple’s seven homes.
Jamie McCourt wants to continue to relax at five-star hotels, jet-set around the world and eat at top restaurants. While most people can’t comprehend or even dream about that kind of opulence, she wants her first-class lifestyle back and believes it will take nearly $1 million a month to do so.
The spousal support hearing was a precursor to a trial that includes a fight over the ownership of the Dodgers, a team valued in legal documents submitted in the divorce case at $963 million as of May 2009.
Lawyers for the two sides are due back in court to discuss whether a trial in the divorce case — and, ultimately, control of Major League Baseball’s Dodgers — will be able to start as scheduled on May 24.
Frank McCourt, 56, claims he’s the sole owner of the team, based on documents the couple signed in 2004, the year they bought the franchise. Jamie McCourt, 56, a lawyer, says she should get 50 percent of the team and that she wasn’t aware those documents would affect her share of the Dodgers.
The couple separated in July after 30 years of marriage. Frank McCourt fired Jamie McCourt as the team’s chief executive officer on Oct. 21.
Commissioner Scott M. Gordon, who is hearing the case, has about three months to issue a ruling on the temporary support payments. He said yesterday that there have been tens of thousands of pages filed so far by the 10 lawyers involved in the case, delaying any ruling.
The hearings, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, are taking place less than a week before the baseball season starts.