Attorneys for Shelly Sterling asked a judge to consider a non-jury trial of her lawsuit against a former confidante of her husband, but the defendant’s lawyer said his client is entitled to have a panel of citizens decide the case.
Shelly Sterling’s lawsuit seeks the return by V. Stiviano of any cash, real estate, cars or other belongings considered community property the plaintiff owned with her husband, former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Stiviano, who has used the names Vanessa Perez, Monica Gallegos and Maria Valdez, met Sterling at the February 2010 Super Bowl and began a sexual relationship with him that year, according to the lawsuit filed last March.
In interviews following the release of racially charged Donald Sterling recordings — which earned him a lifetime ban from the NBA and led to the $2 billion sale of the Clippers — Stiviano denied having a sexual relationship with him. Sterling, however, described his comments on the tapes as being the result of a heated exchange during a “lovers’ quarrel.”
Trial was tentatively rescheduled Friday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin from March 9 to March 25 because he has another case he wants to try first.
Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, Pierce O’Donnell, said the judge, rather than a jury, should decide whether Stiviano is or is not entitled to the home, cash and luxury cars Donald Sterling gave her because the claims are equitable in nature.
He said he will drop his client’s claim for conversion if Fruin rules in her favor. O’Donnell said the home alone is worth $1.8 million.
O’Donnell said two of the main issues in the trial are whether the items Donald Sterling gave Stiviano were community property he held with his wife and whether she consented in writing to transferring the items to the defendant.
Stiviano’s lawyer, Mac Nehoray, said both sides agreed earlier that the case should stay in general civil court rather than family law court, where trials are always held without juries.
Fruin said he will decide next week whether Nehoray can take a deposition of Donald Sterling.
Nehoray said the billionaire was personally served with a deposition subpoena on Jan. 23 by a friend of Stiviano. But Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Douglas Walton, said the subpoena was simply thrown at a car that may or may not have been moving and therefore the service was improper.
Fruin said that before he rules on Nehoray’s motion, he wants Walton to tell him on Monday if Sterling disputes that he was served with a subpoena and whether he can sit for a deposition on Tuesday. Sterling is a former practicing lawyer.
—City News Service