Lawyers say newly found agreement shows Jamie McCourt owns half of Los Angeles Dodgers
LOS ANGELES – Jamie McCourt's attorneys said Thursday they have located a document showing she has an equal stake in the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers and that the revelation will dramatically alter a bitter struggle for the team amid McCourt's divorce proceedings.
The attorneys filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to allow a 2004 property agreement as evidence during a team ownership hearing scheduled to begin Aug. 30. The motion states that Jamie and Frank McCourt signed six copies of the agreement — three of which showed the Dodgers as Frank McCourt's property, and the three newly discovered documents that indicate Jamie McCourt has an ownership stake.
Jamie and Frank McCourt remain locked in a hard-fought divorce, with the ownership of one of baseball's most storied franchises hanging in the balance.
An attorney for Frank McCourt said all copies of the exhibit should be considered by the judge deciding the ownership issue, but that the newly revealed version does not change the overall agreement and the Boston businessman remains the team's sole owner.
Thursday's filing contends that newly discovered documents correctly spell out the team's ownership, granting Jamie McCourt a stake. The agreement was located after a forensic analysis of other documents in the case revealed that another copy of the 2004 agreement improperly included an exhibit designating Frank McCourt as the Dodgers' sole owner.
"I think that this motion is going to blow the case out of the water," said Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt's attorneys.
Frank McCourt's attorney, Stephen Susman, said the papers filed Thursday do not present an accurate picture of the agreement. He said Jamie McCourt reviewed and signed the agreement with an exhibit conferring sole ownership rights to her then-husband on March 31, 2004.
He said she has since reviewed the agreement several times and never questioned it until after the divorce was filed. Those documents, reviewed by a California attorneys, reflected that she owned several residences and the Dodgers were owned by Frank McCourt, Susman said.
In a letter to Jamie McCourt's attorneys, Susman contended that the exhibits, which he acknowledges differ from what was given to her attorneys and what was filed in the divorce court, do not change the overall agreement and that Frank McCourt remains the team's sole owner.
"The bottom line is that they have now admitted that the exhibit was switched," Wasser said. "They're not sure who did it. They're not sure when it happened." He said no one told Jamie McCourt or her attorneys about the incorrect documents being filed.
A copy of the newly discovered agreement has not yet been filed with the court.
The couple entered into an agreement to shield some of the McCourt family's assets when Frank McCourt made his successful bid to purchase the Dodgers in 2004. Frank McCourt's attorneys have argued that the agreement called for him to be the team's sole owner, while Jamie McCourt contends she has an ownership right.
Under California law, property is generally split equally between divorcing couples, unless there is a valid agreement spelling out how assets should be distributed.
Jamie McCourt had sought to end the couple's nearly 30-year marriage in October. She was fired from her position with the team, and the couple have been involved in several major legal squabbles, including over how much spousal support Frank McCourt should pay.
In May, a judge awarded her $225,000 a month in temporary spousal support and ordered Frank McCourt to pay $412,159 a month for the pair's six homes and a condominium. Jamie McCourt had been seeking nearly $1 million in support and mortgage payments.