By Brett Goodman
Yesterday, Major League Baseball (the MLB) rejected a proposed television deal for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a move that sends the McCourt divorce proceedings back to the drawing board and highlights the complications that can arise from a lack of proper mediation.
The highly publicized divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt, former joint owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball franchise, had finally reached an agreement on June 17 of this year contingent upon the television contract being accepted. Yesterday’s rejection of the deal, however, suggests mediation may need to occur.
“Commissioner Selig’s letter of rejection is not only a disappointment,” said Frank McCourt through a statement, “but worse, is potentially destructive to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Major League Baseball. Accordingly, we plan to explore vigorously our options and remedies with respect to Commissioner Selig’s rejection of the proposed FOX transaction and our commitment to protect the long-term best interests of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
The Dodgers franchise has been in financial dire straits as of late. If payroll cannot be met by June 30, the MLB may be forced to take over the team for sale. However, given the past year’s Texas Rangers club going from bankruptcy to an appearance in the World Series in the same year, worry within the team is not high. First baseman James Loney said on the matter, “I think the distraction is just hearing about something you can’t really control and don’t have any input in. It’s a situation that’s happened, and I think for us, we should just go out and play baseball.”
However the dispute is resolved, through mediation or other means, the case is an excellent real world example of the headaches that can be avoided through effectively mediating as early as possible. Given the confidentiality of mediation as well as the promise of avoiding lengthy and expensive litigation, greater efforts to reach an agreement early on in the divorce proceedings could have avoided public embarrassment for the McCourts as well as more certainty in Dodger nation.
Brett Goodman is a summer intern at Karl Bayer, Dispute Resolution Expert. Brett is a J.D. candidate at The University of Texas School of Law. He holds degrees in Finance, Mathematics, and Spanish from Southern Methodist University.