TEXT OF INTERVIEW
STEVE CHIOTAKIS: This morning in a Los Angeles courtroom
begins the divorce proceedings that will determine whether Jamie or Frank McCourt owns the L.A. Dodgers. At issue? Whether documents prove ownership of the team, worth three-quarters of a billion dollars. Here to help us sort out what we’re likely to see in that courtroom, and what history tells us about divorce cases such as this, is Scott Altman, a law professor at the USC Gould School of Law. Professor, thanks for being here.
SCOTT ALTMAN: Pleasure.
CHIOTAKIS: The couple’s dispute centers around this agreement that they both signed way back in 2004. What exactly is at issue here?
ALTMAN: Well there’s two elements of dispute. One is Mrs. McCourt says she didn’t read the document and she was led to believe it only concerned liabilities that might be settled with creditors and not the divorce. And the second is she says because of inconsistencies in the document it should be thrown out altogether. The first draft said that Mr. McCourt would keep anything in his name except the Dodgers in case of divorce. A later draft said he would keep anything in his name including the Dodgers in case of divorce.
CHIOTAKIS: Now, I can think of many contracts I would like to get out of, professor, where I say I didn’t read the contract. Is that a legal maneuver?
ALTMAN: Well, no, just saying that you didn’t read the contract is certainly not sufficient. But her first argument is that she was led to believe before she signed it that it had nothing to do what would happen in case of divorce. And the question is, was she misled into believing that by Mr. McCourt or was she — because she’s a sophisticated person, she’s a lawyer, she has advanced degrees — going to be held responsible for the document she signed.
CHIOTAKIS: And how long will this fight take?
ALTMAN: I think that really depends on how much testimony the judge is going to allow in this case. These are really factual questions: Exactly what did she know about the document? What was she told? Who told her these things? And presumably they’re going to be presenting witnesses as to precisely what was said.
CHIOTAKIS: We’ll have to wrap it up there. Professor Scott Altman, we do appreciate it.
ALTMAN: Thank you very much.
CHIOTAKIS: Scott Altman, professor of law at the USC Gould School of Law. Thanks for your time.
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