Sterling marriage 'stress' at issue as L.A. Clippers trial nears end

Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:57pm EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's bid to block the $2 billion sale of the NBA team in a probate trial entered its final stretch on Wednesday when his attorneys sought to prove his estranged wife improperly seized control of the franchise.

Sterling's attorneys called only two witnesses during the emotionally charged trial that will determine whether the 80-year-old real estate billionaire' s wife had the authority to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer.

A neurologist called by Sterling's attorneys testified that Sterling, who has been banned by the NBA for racist remarks, was under undue stress from his wife Shelly Sterling, 79, while taking the mental exams that declared him incapable of managing his business affairs.

"There is a stress in the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, and you wouldn't want that stress to impact a mental status investigation," neurologist Jeffrey Cummings told Los Angeles Superior Court.

Sterling was removed as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers after physicians in May deemed him to be suffering from early Alzheimer's disease.

His legal team was dealt a blow last week when Judge Michael Levanas refused to let them call Shelly Sterling's attorneys as witnesses.

They contend Shelly Sterling, her attorneys and the NBA hatched a secret "Plan B" to gain control of the team when Sterling refused to sell the Clippers amid public and financial fallout from his racist remarks.

"This is a ploy," Sterling's attorney Bobby Samini said outside court, adding he believes Shelly Sterling intends to divorce. "She wants control of the entirety of the estate."   Continued...

 
Real estate mogul and Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball team owner Donald Sterling attends the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok