* League says Dodgers attorneys are conflicted
* Attorneys risking team's expulsion from MLB
* Owner paying teams lawyers, violating bankruptcy code
By Tom Hals
Sept 26 The lawyers for the bankrupt Los
Angeles Dodgers have put the interests of the owner, Frank
McCourt, ahead of the baseball team they represent and they
should be disqualified, according to Major League Baseball.
The disqualification request steps up the battle between
the league and McCourt over ultimate control of one of the
sport's most storied franchises.
The cash-strapped Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June
after the league rejected McCourt's planned sale of broadcast
rights for $3 billion because some of the proceeds were
earmarked for McCourt's personal use.
The Dodgers' law firms, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP and Young
Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, are now pursuing the media
rights sale again, this time while in bankruptcy, even though
the league warned it could lead to the team being expelled from
MLB said in court papers filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy
Court in Delaware that strategy shows that team's attorneys are
working not for the Dodgers, but McCourt.
"It is clear that debtors' counsel either cannot
distinguish between the interests of Mr. McCourt and the best
interests of the debtors, or are simply ignoring the conflict
and acting solely for Mr. McCourt because he ultimately
controls the Dodgers' purse strings," the league said in court
The league said a McCourt-owned entity is paying the team's
attorneys, violating a bankruptcy code requirement that the
attorneys representing a bankrupt company must be
The league commissioner, Bud Selig, and McCourt are
battling over control of the franchise. The league says the MLB
constitution rules the team, and it has said repeatedly it has
the right to force McCourt to sell the team.
The Dodgers disagree, and argue that bankruptcy law trumps
the MLB contract.
The team plans to sell the rights to broadcast the team's
games, and use the billions of dollars to pay back creditors in
full. The team will likely ask the judge to overrule baseball's
objection to sale on the grounds that the league cannot enforce
its rights because it is not acting in good faith.
A hearing on the proposed media rights auction and the
motion to disqualify the team's attorneys is scheduled for Oct.
Bruce Bennett of Dewey & LeBoeuf's Los Angeles office, and
Robert Brady of Young Conaway's Wilmington, Delaware office,
did not immediately return a call for comment on Monday.
The case is In re: Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy
Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-12010.
(Reporting by Tom Hals, editing by Dave Zimmerman)