Entertainment & Sports Law

Clippers can be sold, judge says in tentative ruling against Donald Sterling


A probate judge said in an oral ruling on Monday that Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, can proceed with her plans to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

Judge Michael Levanas said in the tentative ruling that Shelly Sterling had acted according to trust requirements when she removed her husband as co-trustee based on incapacitation, report the National Law Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Levanas also said Shelly Sterling could proceed with the sale without waiting for the results of an appeal.

Ruling on a third issue, Levanas said he had jurisdiction even though Donald Sterling had revoked the trust on June 9.

Levanas said Shelly Sterling’s testimony was “far and away more credible. Donald was often evasive and inconsistent with previous sworn testimony,” the stories report. The Clippers could suffer irreparable harm if the sale is blocked, Levanas said, in part because other possible owners, fearing litigation, would make lower offers. Levanas also said the team could lose sponsors if the sale did not go through.

Shelly Sterling had sought medical exams for her estranged husband after he was banned for life from the National Basketball Association for making racist remarks caught on tape. Doctors concluded Donald Sterling had early Alzheimer’s.

The ruling will become official when Levanas issues a written decision. According to the New York Times, Levanas is expected to sign a statement of decision on Tuesday, and Donald Sterling would have 10 days to file an objection. If Levanas rules against Donald Sterling at that time, Donald Sterling would file a writ seeking to put the sale on hold during the appeal.

Two other suits filed by Donald Sterling are pending, according to the National Law Journal. One is an antitrust suit in federal court, and another is a fraud suit against Shelly Sterling and the NBA in state court.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Donald Sterling shouts at his wife in court, calls her a pig”

ABAJournal.com: Donald Sterling is combative on stand, calls lawyer a ‘smartass’

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