Dodgers sue Fox Sports, alleging interference in team sale
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The Dodgers sued Fox Sports on Wednesday, alleging the television company is trying to ‘interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.’
The suit was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Fox has a suit pending against the Dodgers for alleged breach of contract.
That court also is overseeing the proposed sale of the team, but the sale agreement between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball has yet to be filed with the court. The creditors’ committee expressed concern Tuesday that the delay could jeopardize the goal of selling the Dodgers by Opening Day 2012, a goal that could be further jeopardized by the dueling lawsuits.
In an effort to get McCourt the highest possible sale price, the Dodgers have asked the court for permission to market the team’s television rights. The Dodgers’ current TV contract forbids the team from negotiating with any party other than Fox through Nov. 30, 2012, a provision the team has asked the court to declare unenforceable.
[UPDATED 2:06 p.m.: Fox slammed McCourt in its response to the Dodgers’ suit, issuing a statement that hinted at the acrimony ahead.
[‘This is just the latest chapter in the current owner’s ongoing scheme to avoid honoring his contractual obligations,’ the statement read. ‘The full truth of this unfortunate situation will soon become apparent to all.’]
Fox last week sent a letter to the investment bank handling the Dodgers’ sale demanding that it ‘cease and desist’ from claiming it could solicit bids for the television rights regardless of the current Fox contract. The suit the Dodgers filed Wednesday claims that that letter represents ‘a deliberate attempt by Fox to interfere’ with the team sale and charges Fox with ‘attempts to assert possession of, and exercise control over, property rights of [the Dodgers], including [the Dodgers’] existing and future media rights.’
In order to get McCourt to sell the team, MLB agreed to remain neutral in the fight between the Dodgers and Fox. The league believes that Fox will prevail -- or at least fight long enough to put at risk McCourt’s promise to complete the sale by April 30 -- but the league bargained away its legal leverage.
-- Bill Shaikin