August 08, 2014 5:58pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Donald Sterling's Petition to Stay Clippers Sale Ruling Denied by Appellate Court
Donald Sterling's petition against the ruling that authorized his wife to sell the Los Angeles Clippers has been denied.
The ex-Clippers owner's attorneys filed Friday for a California appeals court to stay Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Levanas's ruling. The ruling held that Shelly was in her rights to negotiate the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a deal that is set to close by Aug. 15.
The judge issued a final statement of decision on Thursday, which permitted the sale to be completed at any time and prompted Sterling's petition. Levanas vacated the ruling earlier on Friday, however, leading the appellate court to deny the petition with the response, "presently there is nothing for this court to review."
The judge's tentative ruling on July 28 came with an order from section 1310(b) of California's probate code, which holds that even if an appeal is filed to the decision, the appeal will not stay the ruling—as it otherwise would. In the petition, Sterling's attorneys requested a writ of mandate against the order, contending that the trial court "overestimated its discretion to invoke Section 1310(b)."
The order is invoked "for the purpose of preventing immediate injury or loss to a person." Levanas found that if an appeal were to block the sale of the team to Ballmer, Shelly would suffer the loss of the team's value.
Her husband's petition holds that the order is only fit in cases where the court has appointed guardians or conservators for those mentally or otherwise unable to safeguard themselves or their property. "Never has Section 1310(b) or any of its predecessors been used to force a party to sell unique property it wishes to retain," the petition reads. "Nor has it been used to stave off a perceived monetary loss (no matter how large) which would conversely result in another party being deprived of a unique, irretrievable asset."
It continues, "if anyone had the proper kind of loss cognizable under section 1310(b), it would be Donald."
The petition disputes the reasoning of Levanas's July 28 ruling, which concluded a three-week probate trial. In the proceedings, Shelly held that she had negotiated the sale of the team with her husband's encouragement. She testified that he told her, "Wow, you really did a good job" when she secured the $2-billion offer. When he abruptly changed his mind about the sale, she had him removed from the family trust with two doctor's reports of his mental instability. He then revoked the trust.
Levanas ruled that Shelly's negotiation of the sale fit within the California Probate Code's stipulation of a period "reasonably necessary to wind up the affairs of the trust" after its revocation. The petition holds that it is not, and contends that the doctors' reports were not enough to remove Donald from the trust.
The embattled ex-Clippers owner, who was banned from the NBA for life for racist comments made in private, has other litigation in play with regard to the team. He filed suit last week against the NBA, its commissioner Adam Silver and Shelly, alleging they had violated corporate law with the Ballmer sale. He also sued the NBA in May, claiming violations of privacy and antitrust law.
Aug. 8, 6:10 p.m. Updated with Appellate Court's response.
Soo Youn contributed to this report.