NBA files counterclaim against Donald Sterling

The NBA says Donald Sterling has caused devastating and incalculable harm to the league in a legal claim.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

The NBA filed a counterclaim against Donald Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust in federal court Monday, saying the Clippers owner caused “devastating and incalculable harm” to the league.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in response to Sterling’s June antitrust lawsuit against the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, the counterclaim seeks to recover damages related to the owner’s recorded comments denigrating blacks.

Sterling must indemnify the NBA against losses and litigation according to the league’s constitution and a July 2005 document he signed, the counterclaim said. Shelly Sterling also signed an agreement in May to indemnify the NBA for any litigation costs related to her husband’s lifetime ban from the league, his $2.5-million fine and the franchise’s sale.


The counterclaim asks for enforcement of the indemnification, including compensating the league for its investigation into Donald Sterling’s comments, imposing the discipline and defending the federal lawsuit.

Sterling filed the antitrust lawsuit on behalf of him and the Sterling Family Trust. Since Shelly Sterling removed him as a trustee in May after two doctors declared him mentally incapacitated, the NBA asserted in the counterclaim that Donald Sterling didn’t have authority to sue on behalf of the trust.

Last month, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that Shelly Sterling acted appropriately in removing her husband as trustee and agreeing to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. Donald Sterling’s objections to that ruling are due Wednesday after which Judge Michael Levanas could issue his final statement of decision, then final order, which would permit the sale to be completed.

Donald Sterling also sued the NBA and Shelly Sterling for fraud in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month.