The Jamie and Frank McCourt divorce trial has been unfolding half a continent away, but the details are riveting to family law attorneys and baseball fans around the country. Most of us can't even imagine owning a baseball team, much less arguing over whether it was covered in a post-nup. Or two. Or six.
As attorneys were making their closing arguments this week, they reviewed the facts of the case. The McCourts signed six copies of a postnuptial agreement in 2004, but apparently they weren't identical copies. Three indicated that Frank McCourt owned the team (as personal property), and three did not.
Jamie McCourt's argument relied on the principles of contract law. When there are contradictory versions of a contract, he said, there is "no meeting of the minds." Without a meeting of the minds, there is no contract. The team, then, should be considered marital property and divided according to California law.
Frank McCourt has argued throughout the case that he always intended to maintain sole ownership of the team, its stadium and surrounding land. Only Frank's name is listed on the documents that transferred the team from its last owner.
The team was purchased 25 years into the McCourts' 30-year marriage. Jamie acted as the club's CEO until last October, when she was fired. She filed for divorce soon thereafter.
When the case goes to the judge, the judge will have 90 days to determine the fate of the Dodgers. He could agree with either Frank or Jamie, or he could order the sale of the team.
The McCourts have attempted mediation several times without reaching agreement. They are scheduled to meet again this week.
Resource: Bloomberg Businessweek "Lawyer: Prenup Involving Dodgers Should Be Tossed" 9/29/10