Donald Sterling threatened to “take out” a lawyer representing his wife and left hostile voicemail messages with two doctors who declared him mentally incapacitated, according to documents filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The allegations were part of a motion by Shelly Sterling’s attorneys seeking an injunction to bar her husband and his attorneys from intimidating witnesses and opposing counsel. Judge Michael Levanas denied the request Thursday.
A four-day hearing is scheduled next month to examine whether Donald Sterling’s removal in May as a trustee of the Sterling Family Trust was appropriate. After Shelly Sterling became the lone trustee, she quickly agreed to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
Donald Sterling, though, has pledged to fight.
On June 9, he allegedly left a voicemail message for Meril Platzer, one of the doctors who declared him incapacitated, threatening to sue and have her license revoked.
“You’re nothing but a fraud and a liar and a cheat and I’m gonna see that you lose your license and I’m suing you for conspiracy,” Sterling said, according to a transcript of the message.
Another doctor who examined Sterling, J. Edward Spar, allegedly received a similar voicemail message, rife with name-calling and profanity, on June 9.
“This is a conspiracy,” Sterling said according to a transcript. “You and the lawyer got together to try to establish that I was unable to perform. I’m more able to perform than you are.
“I’m just so excited. I’m so angry. I just can’t believe it.”
The same day, according to a declaration by Shelly Sterling’s lead attorney, Pierce O’Donnell, Donald Sterling made threats during a conference call with several attorneys. Sterling directed a profane statement at O’Donnell at least three times during the conversation, O’Donnell said, and pledged to divorce his wife and “sue everyone.”
“He said he did not care about the money it cost or what the claim would be, but that he was going to spend whatever money he has to litigate just to make my life miserable,” O’Donnell said in his declaration. “Mr. Sterling then shouted even louder, and said in a menacing tone, ‘I am going to take you out, O’Donnell!’ ”
O’Donnell said he understood the statement to mean Sterling planned to kill him or have him killed.
“I didn’t think he was asking me to dinner,” O’Donnell said after filing the motion Thursday. “I took it seriously then and I take it seriously now.”
Sterling’s lawyers said their client had no intention of intimidating the doctors or the opposing attorney.
“I don’t think Mr. Sterling is going to kill anybody or harm anybody. He's got a short fuse,” said attorney Max Blecher, who has taken the lead in Sterling’s fight with the NBA.
Blecher said Sterling’s emotional reaction becomes more understandable when considering what he has faced since audio recordings surfaced in late April of him making racially inflammatory remarks.
“He’s having a private conversation with what we’ll loosely call his girlfriend in her living room which she is illegally recording” Blecher said. “And the next thing he knows he has been banned from the league for life. He has been fined $2.5 million. And they are taking his team away from him. And you have to think: Is this the right result in the United States?”
Another Donald Sterling attorney, Bobby Samini, was in the room during Sterling’s comments to O’Donnell on the conference call. The attorney described the exchange as “entertaining” and spirited but said there was nothing intimidating in what Sterling said to the opposing attorney.
“I didn’t hear any threats on either side,” Samini said.
One of O’Donnell’s partners, Aaron Moss, said that Platzer, in particular, was so disturbed by Sterling’s message that she had second thoughts about her decision to take on his case. The attorneys don’t expect a hearing on the motion, but believe a ruling could come later Thursday.