Despite Donald Sterling’s latest lawsuit filed last week to stop the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, the deal can proceed, a Los Angeles judge ruled Monday.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas rejected Sterling’s claims that his wife, Rochelle “Shelly” Sterling, had acted improperly in terminating him as co-trustee from the trust that owned the team, clearing the way for the $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to move forward.
“Our team delivered an extraordinary result in a very short period of time, in a complex case that raised novel issues,” said Bob Baradaran, managing partner of Shelly Sterling’s legal team from Greenberg Glusker, in a statement given to TheWrap. “This ruling will enable our client to consummate the historic, $2 billion sale of the Clippers, which will benefit not only her, but the fans, players and entire Los Angeles sports community. Our hats go off to [litigator] Pierce [O’Donnell] and to the entire team.”
“Naturally, we’re thrilled at the unequivocal rejection of Donald’s claims,” added Bert Fields, another of Shelley Sterling’s attorneys. “The Judge’s statement was thorough, well-reasoned and left no doubt as to Shelly’s being right and Donald’s being very wrong.”
Donald Sterling had filed suit against his wife, alleging that she tricked him into undergoing a variety of medical exams that she then used to deem him mentally unfit, to remain a co-trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which wholly owns the Los Angeles Clippers.
The forced sale of the team was precipitated by racist comments Sterling made to alleged mistress V. Stiviano, that were made public in April 2014. He was subsequently fined $2.5 million by the NBA and banned from the league for life. NBA commissioner Adam Silver further banned Sterling from any involvement with his team, and then began the process of forcing him to sell.
While this process was ongoing, Donald Sterling’s wife, Shelly, began meeting with prospective buyers, including Ballmer. Donald Sterling has made several attempts to block the sale of the team, which he has owned since 1981. He has two other lawsuits pending.
After the victory in court on Monday, Ballmer’s lawyer, Adam Streisand, predicted there would be more challenges before the deal is done. “We expect that we’re going to continue to get grenades from all directions, but I’ve been confident from the beginning about how this is going to work out, and I’m still confident,” he said, according to The New York Times.
Should the sale go forward, it could be approved by NBA owners by mid-September.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.