A state appeals court Monday unanimously rejected former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s attempt to reverse last year’s sale of the NBA franchise.
The three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas did not commit legal errors when he approved the team’s sale last year to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in July 2014.
In the 18-page opinion written by Justice Madeleine Flier, the appeals court found that Sterling’s claims that he revoked the family trust before the sale was of no importance.
“Assuming Donald effectively revoked the trust on June 9, 2014, Donald fails to demonstrate such revocation precluded the probate court from authorizing the trustee to sell the Clippers in accordance with the terms of an agreement established prior to Donald’s revocation” Flier wrote.
Flier also noted that Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, acted in the best interests of the trust’s beneficiaries when she sold the team for an amount higher than she and her advisers thought was possible.
“The amount caused Donald to congratulate (Shelly,)” Flier wrote.
The Ballmer purchase came in the wake of a threat by the NBA to take control of the team after banning the billionaire for life for racist remarks that were secretly recorded by a female former confidante.
Pierce O’Donnell, who is Shelly Sterling’s lawyer, said in a statement late Monday that she “is thrilled that (the) 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,” he said. “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.”
Donald Sterling filed for divorce from Shelly Sterling in August.
— Wire reports