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US: Clippers owner Donald Sterling, banned for life, could sue the NBA

 |  April 30, 2014

The owner of NBA team the Clippers, Donald Sterling, was kicked out earlier this week from the league and forced to sell the team after the fallout of leaked audio of Sterling’s racist remarks. But while experts say his lifetime ban from the basketball association is binding, he could potentially sue over the forced sale of the Clippers if it goes at below market price on grounds such a requirement would violate antitrust law.

According to sports law professor Cari Grieb, who teaches at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Sterling could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA if the Clippers are sold for less than the team’s market value. Sterling could even potentially sue for treble damages.

”If he’s forced to sell at $575 million and he’s alleging the team is actually worth $300 million more, you would then treble the damages and it would be $900 million damages,” the professor explained.

Grieb did note, however, that any such case would not like go to trial and instead end in a settlement. Still, a dispute would not necessarily be unfounded, as the NBA’s constitution only allows the expulsion of a team owner in the case of gambling, fraud or inability to fulfill contractual obligations, say reports. “There were not economic issues” regarding the reasoning behind Sterling’s ousting, Grieb said. “So here, a question whether or not the league can actually terminate Donald Sterling’s franchise agreement is a question that Donald Sterling is going to litigate.”

The case would mirror a 1996 settlement reached between the NFL and former New England Patriots owner Bill Sullivan, who argued the NFL unlawfully forced him to sell the team. HE was awarded $11.5 million, reports say.

Full content: LA Times

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