Trial will decide which Sterling controls LA Clippers

Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:33am EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Shelly Sterling on Wednesday was granted a trial next month in Los Angeles to resolve a dispute with her estranged husband Donald Sterling over who controls the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, leaving its $2 billion sale up in the air.

Shelly Sterling has asked a probate court to confirm her as the controlling owner of the team after Donald Sterling promised to block the franchise's NBA-record sale to former Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote) chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Donald Sterling, 80, was banned for life by the National Basketball Association in April and fined $2.5 million by the league after tape of racist remarks he made in private were leaked to the media. He has owned the Clippers for 33 years.

A four-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court is set to begin on July 7 and offer a resolution ahead of the NBA owners' July 15 vote on whether to approve the sale to Ballmer.

Attorneys for Shelly Sterling filed the emergency request for a hearing to try to reinforce her status as the sole trustee of the family trust and her right to sell the team without Donald Sterling's blessing.

They allege that if the sale to Ballmer is not completed by the NBA's Sept. 15 deadline the league will seize and sell the Clippers franchise at public auction.

Last month, two neurologists found Sterling to have Alzheimer's disease, which triggered the clause transferring control of the trust that owns the team to Shelly Sterling.

According to the clause, Sterling would not have the standing to block the sale to Ballmer that was agreed to by Shelly Sterling and tentatively approved by the NBA.   Continued...

 
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (R) puts his hand over his face as he sits courtside with his wife Shelly (L) while the Clippers trail the Chicago Bulls in the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles in this December 30, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files