Donald Sterling’s former courtside companion may end up paying more than $70,000 in legal fees related to her failed defamation lawsuit against Shelly Sterling, the Sterling family trust and a former Clippers team entity.
Lawyers for Shelly Sterling, the trust and L.A. Sports Properties Inc. filed court papers Thursday seeking attorneys’ fees and costs to compensate their clients in getting V. Stiviano’s complaint tossed. Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling’s estranged wife, is asking for $45,585. The trust and L.A. Sports Properties want about $25,000.
A hearing on the motion for attorneys’ fees is scheduled Dec. 16. Trial of Shelly Sterling’s case is scheduled for March 9. She sold
Attorneys for Shelly Sterling, L.A. Sports Properties and the Sterling family trust said the countersuit alleged unclear allegations that their clients defamed Stiviano in the national news media by calling her a thief and claiming she embezzled funds and other properties from Donald Sterling.
In a sworn declaration, attorney Caroline Heindel, one of the attorneys representing all of those parties seeking attorneys’ fees, says Stiviano herself made the legal work fighting her countersuit even more difficult.
“Her (countersuit) was so vague and ambiguous as to be nearly unintelligible; we were left guessing as to what defamatory statements were alleged … making the motion extremely difficult to draft,” Heindel said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin dismissed the part of the case against Shelly Sterling last month. Then, on Nov. 13, Fruin ruled that V. Stiviano could not pursue her claims against the Sterling family trust and L.A. Sports Properties Inc. Fruin said the trust was not capable of being sued and that an organization such as L.A,. Sports Properties cannot make defamatory statements.
Fruin ruled Stiviano was a “limited purpose” public figure and would have to prove any damaging statement made against her was done with malice.
L.A. Sports Properties Inc. is the successor entity to LAC Basketball Club Inc., which formerly owned the Clippers. The entities were named as defendants in the countersuit along with Shelly and Donald Sterling and former Clippers president Andy Roeser.
Donald Sterling previously was dropped as a defendant in the countersuit, and Roeser was never served.
Shelly Sterling sued Stiviano March 7, seeking the return of any joint property. The lawsuit alleged Stiviano met Sterling at the 2010 Super Bowl, began a sexual relationship with him and used multiple names.
In interviews following the release of the Donald Sterling recordings — which earned him a lifetime ban from the NBA and led to a dispute over the $2 billion sale of the Clippers — Stiviano denied having a sexual relationship with Sterling. Sterling, however, described his comments on the tapes as being the result of a heated exchange during a “lovers’ quarrel.”
After the NBA ruling, Shelly Sterling sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
— City News Service