Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frank accepts settlement proposal, but no agreement reached.

Looks like we might just see this one through to a decision after all. Breaking weeks of silence, Marc Seltzer, an attorney for Frank McCourt released the following statement:

Frank fully supported the mediation process in the hopes that it would result in an agreement that would bring long-awaited closure to this matter. 
It is clear that Judge Lichtman, who acted as the settlement judge in this matter, went to great lengths to bring the parties together.  He presented a thoughtful, detailed proposal that clearly took significant time, energy and expertise to prepare. 
After considerable deliberation, Frank accepted Judge Lichtman's proposal.  He felt it was the responsible thing to do for his family, the Dodgers organization and the entire community. Unfortunately, Judge Lichtman has declared the parties to be at impasse.  We can only conclude that Jamie rejected Judge Lichtman’s settlement proposal and is allowing this matter to drag on further.
A few quick thoughts--to start, we have no hard facts about what the package looked like. If Frank was prepared to accept Judge Lichtman's proposal, it's likely the proposal didn't involve selling the team. In settlement discussions prior to the trial, Frank had balked at any scenarios which would in some way diminish his ownership of the team.

Next, I don't doubt for a moment that Judge Lichtman's proposal was indeed thoughtful and detailed. As was reported last week, the law firm involved in the document confusion, Bingham McCutchen, was a party to settlement discussions. Presumably concerned about potential liability stemming from the saga, Bingham might have been willing to pay both Frank and Jamie to agree not to pursue the firm later. Add in that piece to the several other moving parts--the TV rights, debt obligations, tax considerations--and there is no doubt that any potential settlement agreement was going to be pretty darned complex.

Finally (for now), if Frank's side's characterization of Judge Lichtman's view is correct--that the parties are, indeed, at an impasse--that tells me the disagreement concerns fundamental issues, not structuring. Remember, though, that this thing can still be settled prior to a decision.

Back later with more.


  1. Josh,
    A quick question.

    Weren't both sides supposed to remain mum on releasing statements and if that order wasn't followed, would it affect a ruling or final ruling?

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  2. So, if it turns out to be true that Frank accepted Lichtman's terms while Jamie didn't, can it be deduced that Lichtman must be somewhat closer to Frank's position and therefore that Lichtman, at least, would therefore rule, if he were allowed to, somewhere near his own position and therefore acceptable to Frank, but nit to Jamie?

    Is Gordon likely to see things the same way? Do the two judges confer at all, or does each come to a totally independent judgment?

  3. Jamie appears willing to see this through to the bitter end, either confident or faking it as best she can. We will presumably never know the substance of the mediation, how close they were to a true resolution. I have absolutely no idea how this will play out. The settlement concept appears dimmer and dimmer with each tick of the clock.