Court asked to decide McCourt Dodgers issues
An ownership dispute between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank
McCourt and his estranged wife will linger through at least a third
of the 2010 season after a judge on Tuesday set a hearing for late
McCourt, mired in a bitter divorce with wife Jamie, had wanted the ownership issue decided by spring training.
The case has been cited as a distraction for the storied franchise at a time when the free agent market is heating up.
The hearing was cordial but contentious, with both sides lobbing accusations in legal and baseball parlance.
Dennis Wasser, Jamie McCourt's attorney, complained that the proper documents to determine Frank McCourt's income and wealth hadn't been turned over.
"There's been game-playing in this case, and it's not baseball," Wasser said. "It's hide-and-seek."
He accused Frank McCourt of crying poverty and contracting a fictional illness, "RAIDS - Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome."
Frank McCourt's attorney, Sorrell Trope, questioned whether Wasser was arguing his case to Gordon or the two rows of reporters who attended the hearing.
"He's certainly not in the batter's box," Trope said. "He's out in left field."
Superior Court Commissioner Scott M. Gordon set a two-day hearing on spousal support payments for March 29 and said the ownership issue would be heard from May 24 to June 3.
The Dodgers begin the regular season April 5 in Pittsburgh. Gordon agreed to move up the spousal support hearing from that date because Frank McCourt would be traveling with the team.
"It's obviously a distraction to management," Marc Selter, one of Frank McCourt's attorneys, said about the case after Tuesday's hearing.
Jamie McCourt has also sought nearly $488,000 a month in spousal support, but the figure is likely to change once a complete picture of Frank McCourt's finances is known
Wasser said the firing of his client as the team's chief executive has caused any disruptions experienced by the team.
Frank McCourt fired his wife in October, along with her boyfriend-bodyguard. Jamie McCourt failed in her bid to be reinstated to the position.
The Dodgers have faced numerous challenges during the offseason. Their pitching rotation took a hit when one of their most reliable starters, Randy Wolf, signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Dodgers opened the offseason with 16 potential free agents, including Manny Ramirez, who must decide if he will exercise his $20 million option for next season and return.
The Dodgers dealt outfielder Juan Pierre to the Chicago White Sox in a move that cut some salary from the team's $100 million-plus payroll.
It seems the McCourts' divorce will continue to produce distractions.
"More bombshells will come in this case," Wasser promised after the hearing.