June 18, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Donald Sterling: “I Can Get as Much as $5 Billion”

 

Whether or not Sterling's wife had the right to sell the Clippers will depend largely on the circumstances regarding Sterling's mental examinations.
Whether or not Sterling’s wife had the right to sell the Clippers will be decided upon in court.

Donald Sterling is scheduled to return to the witness stand today in a probate trial to determine if his wife has the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

During a sometimes-testy first day on the stand, Sterling repeatedly clashed with his wife’s veteran attorney, Bert Fields, often criticizing his questions.

Sterling insisted, however, that he could get as much as $5 billion for the NBA team he bought in 1981 for about $12 million. He also said he could win up to $9 billion in his lawsuit against the league.

“Watch and see what happens,” the 80-year-old Sterling told Fields, who is five years older than Sterling and has represented such clients as Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and Warren Beatty.

Sterling said he mistrusted many media outlets, including some that report what they want, and that he could not verify even things that his lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, was quoted in the press as saying on his behalf.

He also attacked two doctors who found him mentally incapacitated, saying they never told him that their findings could be used as justification for his wife to remove him from the family trust and sell the team. One of the doctors was “intoxicated” and the other sat so close to him in his home that “I couldn’t even breathe,” Sterling said.

Sterling testified that another doctor found him “razor sharp” and that he runs five corporations,

Sterling said he is hoping to get a lucrative television deal from Fox similar to the one the Lakers obtained from Time Warner. He also said he objects to any sale of the Clippers that would not leave his wife with some interest in the team.

Fields asked Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas, who is hearing the non-jury trial, to strike much of Sterling’s testimony, saying he was not answering his questions. Levanas, however, let most of the testimony stand, with some mild admonishment to the Clippers owner to be more cooperative with Fields.

Donald Sterling is fighting the proposed $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, contending Shelly Sterling was not authorized to sell the franchise. The Superior Court proceedings are focusing on whether he was induced into undergoing mental examinations by two doctors without being told the reason.

But there will be no rebuttal testimony from Donald Sterling’s attorneys challenging the findings by two doctors that he was mentally incapacitated, which his wife maintains gave her authority to sell the team. One doctor found Sterling to be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial also will deal with whether Donald Sterling’s June 9 revocation of the family trust that held the Clippers had any impact on the proposed sale. Shelly Sterling’s lawyers maintain the $2 billion offer from Ballmer was already accepted by their client and that her husband’s actions were meaningless.

In opening statements, another of Shelly Sterling’s attorneys, Pierce O’Donnell, said Donald Sterling willingly underwent the neurological exams that found him to be incapacitated.

O’Donnell said Shelly Sterling complied with the terms of a family trust when she made the deal with Ballmer and that Donald Sterling changed his mind after originally agreeing to the deal.

Donald Sterling’s attorney, Gary Ruttenberg, countered that Shelly Sterling’s attorneys are improperly using confidential medical information — “fruit of the poisonous tree” that should be excluded from court
consideration. He also said the NBA is complicit in Shelly Sterling’s actions.

“The NBA wants to get rid of my client,” he said. “They were colluding with Mrs. Sterling and her counsel to do this.”

Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life earlier this year following the public release of recorded conversations between him and frequent courtside companion V. Stiviano. Sterling is heard on the tape disparaging Stiviano for having her picture taken with black people and telling her not to bring them to Clippers games.

The league announced plans to force Sterling to sell the team. But he has since filed suit against the NBA, alleging violations of his civil rights.

He contends that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a “lovers’ quarrel” with Stiviano.

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