As the Los Angeles Dodgers move to finalize the team's record-setting $2 billion sale, a BigLaw firm seems to be preparing for a potential malpractice lawsuit by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
A partner at Bingham McCutchen drafted Frank and Jamie McCourt's post-nuptial agreement in 2004, when the couple sought a divorce, Reuters reports. The post-nup should have said the Dodgers were "inclusive" of Frank McCourt's separate property, but some documents used the word "exclusive" instead, according to Reuters.
A court battle ensued, and a judge invalidated the post-nup in 2010.
But Frank McCourt may still pursue a malpractice lawsuit against Bingham -- especially considering how much ex-wife Jamie stands to make in the divorce.
Because a judge invalidated the McCourts' original post-nuptial agreement, the couple had to create a new settlement agreement in 2011.
In the new settlement, Frank McCourt agreed to pay Jaime about $131 million by April 30 to end her ownership claim in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Reuters reports. That money will likely come from the Dodgers' pending $2 billion sale, which a court must still approve.
Granted, $131 million is paltry compared to $2 billion. But had the McCourts' pre-nup been properly drafted -- to say the Dodgers were Frank's separate property -- Frank McCourt likely would not have had to pay Jaime McCourt anything for her stake in the Dodgers, a malpractice lawyer told Reuters.
Anticipating a potential Frank McCourt malpractice lawsuit, lawyers for Bingham McCutchen took a strategic step: They asked a Massachusetts court last year for a declaratory judgment that it "met the standard of care" in preparing the McCourts' post-nup, Reuters reports.
A judge, however, dismissed Bingham's request, noting Frank McCourt has not yet filed a lawsuit.
"We continue to believe that Frank McCourt has suffered enormous damages as a result of Bingham's malpractice, that require compensation," Frank McCourt's new lawyers told Reuters, though they did not say when a lawsuit would be filed. Lawyers for Bingham have declined to comment.
- Jamie McCourt's Share: Baseball's Worst Deal? (The Wall Street Journal)
- LA Dodgers are Community Property, Jamie McCourt Co-Owns Team (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- Using a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement (FindLaw)
- The Enforceability of Postnuptial Agreements: Massachusetts Weighs In, Part One in a Two-Part Series of Columns on Postnuptial Agreements (FindLaw's Writ)