- Molly Knight
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LOS ANGELES -- Lawyers for Jamie McCourt filed a motion Tuesday in superior court seeking greater financial transparency from her estranged ex-husband, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, calling his recent attempt to secure loans to ease his cash-flow problems without their client's knowledge "outrageous."
In the opening paragraph of the 52-page filing, Jamie's attorneys charge that Frank has "flagrant[ly] breached ... his affirmative fiduciary duties to promptly, voluntarily, and fully disclose" financial information about the Dodgers to his ex-wife, and that he has stonewalled her efforts to get it. Among other things, they have asked the court to order Frank to give them access to the team's books. They are seeking more information about the nature of the embattled owner's debt, and what he's doing to try to raise the money necessary to keep the team in his control.
The filing comes on the heels of last week's report by the Los Angeles Times that Frank tried, and failed, to secure a $200 million loan from Fox Television against the team's cable TV rights. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected that deal, "a clear sign that Frank's actions were deemed to be not in the best interests of the franchise," Jamie McCourt's court filing stated.
The motion goes on to say that Jamie was "shocked" by the report, and the prospect of her ex-husband receiving any loan that could significantly deflate the value of the Dodgers, which she maintains she co-owns with Frank.
"It is outrageous that Jamie and her counsel have to rely upon the news media for information that Frank is affirmatively obligated under California law to provide before the fact," stated the filing by attorney Michael J. Kump, who represents Jamie McCourt.
Frank McCourt's attorney, Ryan Kirkpatrick, said his client "has fully complied, and will continue to comply, with his obligations to Jamie." He added that the two sides have already scheduled a meeting to talk about the "parties' requests for information from one another, and the mechanics of exchanging that information."
"It is not clear why Jamie decided to file a motion for the disclosure of information before that meeting even took place, and before she has disclosed any information to Frank regarding the assets under her control," Kirkpatrick said. "In any event, we will respond to the substance of the motion through our responsive filing."
Jamie's attorneys say that beginning on Feb. 14 they made a series of written demands to Frank's side for financial information only to be met with "denials and foot-dragging."
The McCourts were married for 31 years before divorcing last fall. In December, a judge invalidated the post-nuptial agreement that gave Frank sole ownership of the Dodgers, a decision that has thrown the future of the club into doubt. Frank McCourt still contends that he alone is the owner of the club -- reportedly worth up to a billion dollars. Jamie believes they co-own the Dodgers together.
"Under California law he has a duty to disclose his financial dealings to his former wife," says Michael J. Kump, an attorney for Jamie McCourt. "She has the same rights as a non-marital business partner would."
A hearing has been set for April 11.
Jamie McCourt's lawyers are optimistic that that hearing will kickstart the next phase of this 17-month legal battle, in which the couple's assets will be characterized and ultimately divided. It is not yet known whether this process will result in the sale of the Dodgers.
Molly Knight is a reporter at ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.