(Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s lawsuit accusing the National Basketball Association of antitrust violations for forcing him to sell the franchise in 2014.
In a decision dated Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin in Los Angeles said he was “skeptical that Sterling suffered any injury at all, let alone an antitrust injury,” given the record $2 billion price that former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers.
Sterling had sued in May 2014, not long after the league banned him for life following racist remarks he had made in a conversation recorded secretly by his girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
His lawsuit was filed the same week that Sterling’s wife Shelly agreed to sell the Clippers to Ballmer, ending her husband’s 33 years at the helm.
The lawsuit sought at least $600 million in actual damages plus punitive damages.
It also named as defendants Shelly Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his predecessor David Stern, and two doctors who questioned Donald Sterling’s capacity to help oversee a family trust that owned the Clippers.
Olguin said Sterling might still pursue claims in a California state court over the league’s use of the recording, but suggested it may be an uphill battle because the recording had already been made public.
Bobby Samini, a lawyer for Donald Sterling, said he is reviewing whether to appeal, and that his client will pursue the state court claims. “While we are not entirely surprised by the ruling, our client remains committed to the cause,” he said.
Pierce O‘Donnell, a lawyer for Shelly Sterling, said the decision “puts a merciful end” to Donald Sterling’s “quixotic litigation campaign” over the Clippers sale.
“Ironically, Donald, in defeat, is the beneficiary of $2 billion,” he said.
A lawyer for the NBA was not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Grant McCool