News

Sterling marriage ‘stress’ at issue as Clippers trial wraps up

Sterling marriage ‘stress’ at issue as Clippers trial wraps up

CLIPPERS CONTROVERSY:Sterling has launched other lawsuits against the NBA, league commissioner Adam Silver and Shelly Sterling in a bid to scrap the sale, which he testified undervalued the team. Photo: Associated Press

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s bid to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA team in a probate trial entered its final stretch on Wednesday when his attorneys sought to prove his estranged wife improperly seized control of the franchise.

Sterling’s attorneys called only two witnesses during the emotionally charged trial that will determine whether the 80-year-old real estate billionaire’ s wife had the authority to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

A neurologist called by Sterling’s attorneys testified that Sterling, who has been banned by the NBA for racist remarks, was under undue stress from his wife Shelly Sterling, 79, while taking the mental exams that declared him incapable of managing his business affairs.

“There is a stress in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, and you wouldn’t want that stress to impact a mental status investigation,” neurologist Jeffrey Cummings told Los Angeles Superior Court.

Sterling was removed as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers after physicians in May deemed him to be suffering from early Alzheimer’s disease.

His legal team was dealt a blow last week when Judge Michael Levanas refused to let them call Shelly Sterling’s attorneys as witnesses.

They contend Shelly Sterling, her attorneys and the NBA hatched a secret “Plan B” to gain control of the team when Sterling refused to sell the Clippers amid public and financial fallout from his racist remarks.

“This is a ploy,” Sterling’s attorney Bobby Samini said outside court, adding he believes Shelly Sterling intends to divorce. “She wants control of the entirety of the estate.”

Sterling’s attorneys chose not to call either Sterling to testify. Both testified earlier in the trial, with a combative Donald Sterling often shouting and at one point calling his wife a pig.

Cummings, a physician who specializes in dementia at Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas, said he would have told Sterling why he was being examined, supporting Sterling’s argument that he was misled into the medical examinations.

But under cross-examination, Cummings testified it would be adversarial if a physician told a patient the legal implications of an examination.

Cummings is central to Sterling’s case that the process used to remove him as trustee was inappropriate, but Levanas said he was unsure whether Cummings’s testimony – much of which was successfully objected to by Shelly Sterling’s attorney – would factor in his decision.

Closing arguments begin on July 28 and Levanas will rule on whether Sterling was properly removed as a trustee and if Sterling’s revocation of the family trust after the sale to Ballmer could void the NBA-record deal.

Levanas will also decide whether the sale can continue pending a possible appeal.

Sterling has launched other lawsuits against the NBA, league commissioner Adam Silver and Shelly Sterling in a bid to scrap the sale, which he testified undervalued the team.

Sterling is likely to ask a civil court for an injunction on the sale if he loses the probate trial.

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Ken Wills)

Recent Headlines

1 day ago in Local

PDR Disabled You Deer Hunt Looks For Disabled Children

fawn_deer

The PDR Disabled Youth Deer Hunt is looking for disabled adolescents to attend a free whitetail deer hunt.

1 day ago in Local

Gov Dayton Says Clinton is Best Qualified for President

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at New York University's Kaufman Management Center

Featuring: Hillary Clinton
Where: New York City, New York, United States
When: 24 Jul 2015
Credit: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com

**Not available for publication in Germany, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia**

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has maintained support for Presumptive Democratic Nominee, Hillary Clinton

1 day ago in Local

Epidemiologist Warns of Ticks Over Memorial Day Weekend

Lake Oakwood Shore-approved-inhouse

With Memorial Day weekend just ahead, thousands of Nebraskans will be heading out on their first camping trips of the season -- and they'll need to take precautions against ticks.

1 day ago in Local

Iowa Police Chief Retires

police to protect and to serve approved clipart

Officials in Iowa City will be looking for a new police chief. Sam Hargadine on Monday announced his retirement, effective June 30.

2 days ago in Local

Dairy Overlay District May Come Soon to Yankton

DairyCows

The Yankton County Commission will host a public meeting this week to talk about forming a dairy overlay district.