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Frank McCourt Battling Law Firm Involved in his Divorce
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In what has become a soap opera, the Los Angeles Dodgers saga involving owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie, has now taken a very interesting turn. When the calendar turned to October, McCourt paid $130 million to his ex-wife in an effort to settle a nationally publicized and nasty divorce. As the calendar turns toward double digits in December, McCourt is preparing to recover those costs from a law firm that helped him create a marital-property agreement for him and his wife seven years ago that he claims is faulty.

In the legal world, hundreds of lawyers are sued each year by their clients for a lack of results or for bad results. Law firms make an effort to settle those claims as quickly as possible, before those suits hit the media, so that the firms’ public images are not destroyed. It has been tough to hide the goings-on involving the Dodgers, the McCourts, and their law firm. The firm involved in the proceedings is Bingham McCutchen LLP.

  
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“It’s something no lawyer or law-firm chairman ever wants to deal with, especially when it is so public and high profile,” said Peter Zeughauser, a law-firm consultant who works in Newport Beach, Calif.

The law firm representing the McCourts has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the proceedings ever since the divorce got into its heated stages last year. McCourt and his current lawyers have claimed in court paperwork that his suit against Bingham could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What has to be figured out is if Frank McCourt suffered any harm because of Bingham, and if so, how much that harm is worth.

A partner in the Bingham firm from the trust and estates department, Lawrence Silverstein, prepared a martial-property agreement for the McCourt back in 2004. The agreement separated the couple’s business assets from their personal assets in an effort to protect the personal assets from business creditors. A major discrepancy come to light last year as lawyers began preparing for the divorce trial. That discrepancy involved three of the copies signed by Frank McCourt saying that he was the sole owner of the Dodgers while the other three signed copies did not specify who the owner of the team was. Later on it was discovered that attachments to the copies that did not name Frank McCourt as the sole owner of the Dodgers were soon replaced by ones that said he was the sole owner.

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Silverstein testified at trial last fall that he did not remember switching the attachments but admitted that he probably was the one who switched the documents. Silverstein also testified that he never told the McCourts about the switch of the attachments because he felt he had the implied consent from the couple to make drafting changes to the documents. Also at the trial, Jamie McCourt testified that she was never told she would be giving up rights to the Dodgers by signing any documents.





 

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