The Firms

November 24, 2010 5:38 PM

Report: Bingham Asked to Kick in to McCourt Settlement Fund

Posted by Drew Combs

Jamie and Frank McCourt are officially divorced, but they remain far apart in settling the dispute over how their marital assets will be divvied up. And ownership of the Los  Angeles Dodgers--a franchise that has been valued at $727 million--is, of course, the biggest prize.

The financial gulf dividing the couple is in the nine-figure range, according to the Los Angeles Times. And, the Times reported Wednesday, it is likely that the mediator trying to settle the case has asked Bingham McCutchen to contribute to a settlement fund that might resolve the matter.

Bingham has taken a prominent role in the divorce battle because of a marital property agreement (and related attachments) between the McCourts that was drafted by firm partner Lawrence Silverstein.

As previously reported, six copies of the MPA exist. Three contain the word "inclusive," which would make Frank McCourt the sole owner of the Dodgers. The other three replace that word with "exclusive," which would make Jamie McCourt a co-owner.

The MPA--and the Bingham lawyer who prepared it--took center stage at the couple's September divorce trial. Silverstein testified that he switched a page that excluded Frank McCourt from sole ownership of the L.A. Dodgers to one that granted him sole control after the agreement had been signed.

(Frank McCourt's legal team at trial included Susman Godfrey's Stephen Susman and divorce lawyer Sorrell Trope; Jamie was represented by David Boies of Boies Schiller & Flexner and divorce lawyer Dennis Wasser.)

While California Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon is expected to issue his decision on the marital property agreement's meaning by the end of December. In the meantime, Gordon made the McCourts’ spilt official on October 26, according to a court filing.

While waiting for Gordon to rule, the parties have engaged in settlement talks. Though those talks have not yet produced a settlement, the McCourts and their lawyers appeared in court on November 19 to receive a settlement proposal from the man mediating the dispute, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman. According to media reports, the sides have until the end of November to reject or accept Lichtman's proposal.

The Times's Wednesday story reports that while preparing that proposal, Lichtman “consulted” with a Bingham McCutchen representative, according to "four sources familiar with the case."

The newspaper does not identify the Bingham representative, but, citing "analysts," says it's likely that Lichtman presented this person with a request that the firm contribute to a settlement fund "rather than risk a potentially more costly malpractice suit later"--presumably as a result of Silverstein's handling of the property agreement.

The Times says Binghan has previously told the newspaper that the mediation discussions are confidential and has declined to comment further. Contacted Wednesday by The Am Law Daily, the firm again declined to comment.

Make a comment

Comments (0)
Save & Share: Facebook | Del.ic.ious | | Email |

Reprints & Permissions


Report offensive comments to The Am Law Daily.

The comments to this entry are closed.

By: TwitterButtons.com

[email protected]

From the Newswire

Sign up to receive Legal Blog Watch by email
View a Sample