Donald Sterling Loses Appeal of Clippers Sale Court of Appeal Rejects Bid To Regain Team’s Ownership

November 16, 2015Article
The California Court of Appeal

The California Court of Appeal today affirmed the sale in August 2014 of the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-shattering price of $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.  In a unanimous decision, the three justices rejected Donald Sterling’s attempt to regain ownership of the team.  The panel overruled Donald’s challenge to the decision of Presiding Probate Court Judge Michael Levanas that Shelly Sterling had the authority, as sole trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the team with Donald’s consent.

In its 18-page opinion, the Court of Appeal noted:

“The evidence credited by the probate court overwhelmingly showed that Donald was properly removed as trustee of the Sterling Family Trust, which owned the Clippers. The credited evidence overwhelmingly supported the probate court’s conclusion that exigent circumstances warranted the sale of the Clippers to prevent extraordinary loss to the trust. The probate court’s sanctioning the sale was correct even though Donald, who initially agreed to the sale, purportedly revoked the trust in an effort to block the sale. On appeal, Donald fails to demonstrate any legal error and fails to consider facts in accordance with the proper standards on appeal.” Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s lawyer at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger, commented on the decision:

“Shelly is thrilled that Court of Appeal has vindicated her decision to sell the team over Donald’s strident objection. The Clippers sale was always in the best interests of not only the Sterling family, but the players, coaches, fans, the City of Los Angeles, and the NBA. Hopefully, with still another defeat, Donald will abandon his scorched earth litigation campaign and dismiss his frivolous lawsuit in federal court against the NBA and Shelly challenging the highest sale price for a professional sports team.”