Donald Sterling Plans $1 Billion Lawsuit Against NBA
The NBA league office announced late Friday that it had settled the Los Angeles Clippers ownership dispute with Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust. Meanwhile, Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, states that a $1 billion lawsuit against the league is moving forward.
"Not dropping. Just filed it," Blecher replied to The Hollywood Reporter in response to the NBA statement. The attorney had earlier stated that a suit would be filed on Friday "seeking $1 billion in damages."
The complaint filed by Donald Sterling's attorney names the basketball franchise owner and the Sterling Family Trust as plaintiffs against the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver.
The May 30 filing alleges violations for denial of constitutional rights, breach of contract and antitrust violations along with a demand for a jury trial and the argument that the forced sale of the Clippers creates a lower value than a non-forced sale. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is acquiring the team for a price tag of $2 billion.
"The forced sale of the Los Angeles Clippers threatens not only to produce a lower price than the non-forced sale, but more importantly, it injures competition and creates antitrust injury by making the relative market unresponsive to consumer preference and the operation of the free market," the complaint reads.
The filing describes V. Stiviano, the woman heard in the leaked audiotape of the owner's racist rant, as Sterling's "lover" and describes the conversation about not bringing black people to his basketball games as a "jealous moment" by Sterling.
"The 'Charge' filed by the NBA against Sterling is based 'solely' on the illegal Stiviano recording and events flowing from the illegal recording's disclosure to the public," the filing states, adding: "Accordingly, this entire proceeding violates substantive constitutional rights afforded Mr. Sterling by the California Constitution and should be immediately terminated forthwith."
Sterling's lawsuit also addresses the lifetime ban from the NBA and $2.5 million fine leveled by Silver on April 29.
"Plaintiff Sterling did not commit any act that violated the NBA Constitution and By-Laws authorizing any fine or ban at all," the filing reads. "But even if his private, illegally recorded speech is considered an act of offending the NBA Constitution and By-Laws, then the Commissioner (Defendant Silver) exceeded the scope of possible punishment."
The league's Friday statement confirms that the Clippers will be acquired by Ballmer and that a June 3 hearing by the NBA Board of Governors would be canceled.
"Mrs. Sterling and the Trust also agreed not to sue the NBA and to indemnify the NBA against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling," the league statement reads.
Ballmer issued his own thanks to Shelly Sterling for negotiating the sale. "I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process," Ballmer's statement read.
A group led by music mogul David Geffen had withdrawn their bid for the team a day prior. The agreed upon price is the highest sale figure ever for an NBA team.
Sterling had originally purchased the Clippers for $13.5 million in 1981.