Donald Sterling settles lawsuit with NBA over sale of Clippers

Donald Sterling owned the Clippers from 1981 to 2014 until being forced out.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

Donald Sterling once pledged to sue the NBA for the rest of his life.

But the 2½-year legal fight by the former Clippers owner over the $2-billion sale of the franchise to Steve Ballmer ended Friday in a quiet settlement with the league.

Bobby Samini, Sterling’s attorney, confirmed the resolution in an email to The Times.


“Donald is pleased with the outcome and is looking forward to focusing on future endeavors,” Samini wrote.

Details of the settlement weren’t immediately available.

Sterling sued the NBA in May 2014, the day after his wife Shelly Sterling agreed to sell the Clippers to Ballmer following the exposure of inflammatory comments Donald Sterling had made about African Americans.

The lawsuit alleged a wide-ranging conspiracy to remove Sterling after 33 years as owner of the Clippers and sought more than $1 billion in damages. The list of defendants eventually grew to include NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, former Commissioner David Stern, Shelly Sterling and two doctors who found Donald Sterling mentally incapable of continuing as a member of the family trust that owned the Clippers.

Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s attorney, expressed relief the saga is finished.

“Donald’s quixotic legal challenge to the record-shattering $2-billion sale was doomed from the very outset,” O’Donnell wrote in an email.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said: “We are pleased that Mr. Sterling has dropped his lawsuit and that this matter is now over.”


As part of the sale agreement, Shelly Sterling indemnified the league against litigation by her husband. About $1 billion from the transaction remained in an NBA-controlled escrow account pending the lawsuit’s resolution. That meant Sterling was, in essence, suing himself.

U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin dismissed the lawsuit in March. The judge assailed it as “plainly insufficient” and “clearly implausible.”

Sterling appealed the decision, undeterred by the latest in a series of legal defeats. But the 82-year-old’s attorneys didn’t file an opening brief by last month’s deadline. The matter concluded Friday with a three-page motion to voluntarily dismiss the case.

Sterling still faces a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court by two law firms that were part of his legal team during the high-profile probate court trial in 2014 that cleared the way for the Clippers to be sold. The firms allege Sterling owes them more than $271,000.

Twitter: @nathanfenno


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