LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jamie McCourt struck out on Thursday in her court bid for reinstatement as chief executive of the Los Angeles Dodgers, two weeks after she was fired by estranged husband and team owner Frank McCourt in their highly public divorce battle.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled that Jamie McCourt’s request to regain her post as CEO, made as part of her divorce filing last week, was premature, and he denied her motion.
But Gordon said he was ruling “without prejudice,” meaning her lawyers could try again later.
One of her lawyers, Dennis Wasser, said after the proceedings that he would raise the issue again during a Dec 15 hearing which is to decide the validity of a post-nuptial agreement between the couple.
“This lady eats, lives and breathes the Dodgers,” Wasser said. “It is the most important thing in her life besides her children.”
Frank McCourt asserts the post-nuptial accord gives him sole ownership of the Dodgers. His lawyer, Manley Fried, expected Gordon would stand by his latest ruling: “When the matter comes up again, we expect the results will be the same.”
The couple, who married in 1979 and have four grown sons, announced their separation last month as the Dodgers faced the Philadelphia Phillies in baseball’s National League championship playoff. The team owner fired his spouse the day after the Phillies cut short the Dodgers’ World Series bid.
The split, lifting the curtain on what is likely to become one of the most closely scrutinized and costly divorces in recent memory, raised immediate questions about future ownership of the Dodgers.
The team is considered one of the premium clubs in Major League Baseball, along with the World Series champion New York Yankees, the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox.
Forbes magazine in April valued the Dodgers as the fourth most valuable team at $722 million. A 95 percent stake in the Chicago Cubs, ranked No. 5, just sold for a record $845 million. But the recession and tight credit markets have diminished sports franchise values over the past year. Some analysts had expected bidding for the Cubs to top $1 billion before the recession hit.
The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004. The wife’s court papers described the couple as “among the wealthiest residents of Southern California, with an estimated worth in excess of $1.2 billion.”
In addition to demanding her CEO job back, Jamie McCourt has insisted that she maintains partial ownership of the Dodgers. She is seeking $321,000 a month in spousal support if reinstated to her former post, or $488,000 a month if not.
Reporting by Steve Gorman, Editing by Mary Milliken and Gerald E. McCormick