Judge: Alleged deal between Jordan, ex-lover invalid

Updated: July 22, 2006, 1:20 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- A judge ruled Friday for Michael Jordan in a legal battle between the former NBA star and a woman who claimed Jordan reneged on a promise to pay her $5 million in hush money when she claimed she was pregnant with his child.

Judge Stuart E. Palmer ruled in Cook County Circuit Court that any alleged agreement between Jordan and Karla Knafel would be invalid, pointing to definitive tests that showed Jordan is not the child's father.

Palmer writes that "as a result of Knafel's fraudulent misrepresentation to Jordan that he was the child's father or, alternatively, as a result of a mutual mistake of fact, the alleged settlement contract is voidable and ... unenforceable. "

Jordan has denied ever agreeing to pay Knafel $5 million.

Jordan's attorney said he considers Friday's ruling a complete victory in the four-year legal fight for the former Chicago Bulls All-Star.

"This is a claim that never should have been made and we are pleased that the court has granted summary judgment in Michael Jordan's favor, " Frederick Sperling said.

Jordan sued Knafel in 2002, alleging attempted extortion. In court documents, he contended that Knafel threatened to publicize their affair and had agreed to a $250,000 payment after paternity tests showed the child was not his.

Knafel argued in a counterclaim that she became pregnant in 1991 and thought the baby was Jordan's. When she told him, the lawsuit contended, Jordan agreed to pay her $5 million to keep quiet about the affair.

An Illinois Supreme Court last year refused to hear Jordan's appeal of a ruling allowing the woman's breach of contract claim to go forward, sending both lawsuits back to Cook County Circuit Court.

Friday's ruling applied to Knafel's countersuit, effectively dismissing it, though she plans to appeal Judge Palmer's ruling, her attorney, Blake Hannafan, said.

"Certainly we are dismayed by the court's ruling in Jordan's favor, " Hannafan said. "We're confident that we will win again [on appeal]."

Jordan's lawsuit is still pending.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press