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

Donald Sterling to Speak in Court Regarding Wife’s Authority over Clippers

 

Sterling was not present on the first day of testimony, but is expected to address his wife's authority over the Clippers in court today.
Sterling was not present on the first day of testimony, but is expected to address his wife’s authority over the Clippers in court today.

After being a no-show in court on the first day of testimony, Donald Sterling is expected to take the stand today in a non-jury trial over whether his wife has the authority to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

Sterling is suing over 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 will focus on whether Donald Sterling 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.

The trial also will deal with whether 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 her and that her husband’s actions were meaningless.

Donald Sterling tried unsuccessfully to have the case transferred to federal court, contending that his federal privacy rights were violated by the release of his medical records to his wife and the public. The legal maneuver prompted a half-day delay in the start of the Los Angeles Superior Court trial on Monday while the judge and attorneys awaited a ruling from a U.S. District Court judge.

By mid-afternoon, however, a federal judge had rejected the case, clearing the way for the state court trial.

In opening statements, Shelly Sterling’s attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, said Donald Sterling willingly agreed to undergo neurological exams that found him to be incapacitated.

O’Donnell told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas that his client complied with the terms of a family trust when she made the deal with Ballmer. He said no fraud occurred and Donald Sterling changed his mind after originally agreeing to the deal.

However, Donald Sterling’s attorney, Gary Ruttenberg, said Shelly Sterling’s attorneys are improperly using confidential medical information, which he called “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.”

The trial’s first witness, Dr. Meril Sue Platzer, testified she conducted two types of brain scans on Donald Sterling in May and then went to his home to perform cognitive testing. She said Shelly Sterling was present and one of Donald Sterling’s attorneys was in another room.

Platzer said that after two hours of testing, she told Sterling he had Alzheimer’s disease, and he replied by saying, “I’m hungry, I want to eat.”

His wife, however, was surprised, Platzer testified.

“She was taken aback, shocked,” Platzer said. “She felt bad for her husband.”

Platzer said she recommended that Shelly Sterling get a second opinion of her diagnosis to see if the second doctor backed up her findings. According to Shelly Sterling’s attorneys, the second neurologist concluded Donald Sterling suffered from dementia.

Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life earlier this year following the public release of recorded conversations between him and 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 take action against Sterling to force him to sell the team. But Sterling has since filed a lawsuit against the NBA, alleging violations of his civil rights. He has contended that he was recorded illegally while making emotional remarks during a “lovers’ quarrel” with Stiviano.

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