Anticipating a possible lawsuit against it for its role in the creation and modification of the Marital Property Agreement at issue in the McCourt divorce, the law firm Bingham McCutchen filed its own lawsuit Monday in Massachusetts. The action, which seeks a court declaration that Bingham McCutchen did not cause Frank's December loss in Los Angeles County Superior Court, signals the possible breakdown of communication between the firm and its former client. The contention at the core of the lawsuit reads:
Despite Mr. McCourt's repeated, public assertions of damage due to Bingham's purported conduct, any injury, loss, or expense he has sustained or will sustain were caused not by Bingham's conduct, but by his own widely-publicized financial problems, huge withdrawals of cash from the Dodgers, and strained relations with Major League Baseball. None of this is attributable to Bingham's work. . . . The inexorable conclusion . . . is that is that Bingham's MPA-related actions caused Mr. McCourt no loss with respect to his ownership of the Dodgers.Bingham's Complaint also notes that Frank has refused to pay the full amounts due Bingham in a form of protest of Bingham's allegedly-insufficient service.
Bingham McCutchen offered a statement, excerpted in part:
Bingham McCutchen LLP, a Boston-based international law firm, today filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts seeking a declaration that the services Bingham provided to Frank McCourt, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, relating to a 2004 marital property agreement between him and Jamie McCourt fully met Bingham's obligations to its clients and that Bingham's work caused Mr. McCourt no loss.Representatives for Frank McCourt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The marital property agreement has been a subject of attention in the couple's long-running divorce proceeding in Los Angeles, and Bingham has been the target of allegations by the McCourts and their counsel critical of Bingham’s work on the MPA. Bingham commenced its court action today seeking a declaration that those allegations are without merit.
“We are confident that when the evidence has been fully developed, it will become clear to everyone that Bingham has fulfilled its professional obligations,” said John Villa of Williams & Connolly LLP, representing Bingham. “The lawsuit filed today is the first step in Bingham's efforts to do so.”
EDIT: A spokesman for Frank McCourt has released the statement below:
It has been openly speculated that the law firm was once a party to settlement discussions between Frank and Jamie McCourt. Indeed, as baseball tightens its grip on Frank McCourt's possible financing options, a cash payment from Bingham in exchange for Frank and Jamie's promise not to sue could have represented a lifeline Commissioner Selig could not block.
More as this develops.