Donald Sterling Hearing to Determine Mental Capacity


In the wake of the sale of the LA Clippers, the Donald Sterling drama continued with a hearing on July 7, 2014 to determine Sterling’s mental capacity to administer a family trust.


Overshadowed by a media-circus of distractions, including a potential anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA by Sterling, allegations that Sterling has hired professional search firms to “dig up dirt” on NBA officials, and accusations of witness tampering, the hearing was held to determine Sterling’s capacity to control family trusts.


Donald Sterling received a lifetime ban from the NBA and was ordered to sell the LA Clippers after racist comments made to a former mistress came to light.  In the weeks that followed, Sterling engaged in increasingly erratic and threatening behavior toward NBA officials, fans, doctors, and even his own legal team.  Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, took control of the family trust in late May immediately prior to her proposed sale of the NBA franchise to Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion.  NBA owners will vote to approve the sale of the team on July 15, 2014.


The July 7th hearing will determine Sterling’s mental capacity.  The transfer of the trust to Shelly Sterling, which allowed for the sale to Ballmer, was predicated on testimony by doctors who stated that Donald Sterling was too volatile to conduct his own business affairs and was in declining mental health.  Shelly Sterling’s doctors concluded that his behavior and psychological condition was consistent with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Meanwhile, Donald Sterling’s attorneys contend that Sterling’s actions are merely those of a man who received unfair treatment by the NBA, was unfairly forced to sell his team, and unfairly received a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban by the NBA.


While many NBA fans are following this case for its theatrics, others are waiting to see whether the NBA owners come together to vote on the sale, and put this episode in the rearview mirror.


With more than 25 years of experience representing professional athletes, individuals and businesses in the areas of sports law, intellectual property, and business litigation, James J. “Jim” Thomas II is recognized as an expert across Georgia.  If you or your business needs assistance in sports law, intellectual property, business ventures, handling complex business litigation, or in the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation in sports law or intellectual property cases, give Jim a call at 404-869-5248, email him today to set up a consultation, or visit online.

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