LOS ANGELES — Deposed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling asked an appellate court today to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Lawyers for Sterling asked the Second District Court of Appeals to stay a probate judge’s ruling that cleared the way for the sale. They said the judge prematurely finalized his ruling so the sale can be completed without a chance to appeal.
Sterling’s lawyers said in their request for a writ of mandate that if the sale goes through, “Donald will have lost a unique and irretrievable asset: a ‘trophy asset’ coveted by high net worth individuals around the world — one of thirty NBA franchises in the country, and one that under Donald’s thirty-year ownership has recently become one of the most successful.”
The main complaint of the appellants is the judge’s decision to allow the sale to go forward with no time for an appeal. He used a section of law that bars a stay of his decision.
Given that provision, it was unclear if the appeal would have any effect. The sale could conceivably go forward while the appeal makes its way through the courts.
Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, negotiated the record sale after the NBA banned the 80-year-old billionaire for making offensive remarks about blacks.
“The nature of the trial court’s order all but guarantees that this court will never review this matter by appeal,” the lawyers said. “lf the sale of the Clippers is not stayed, the team is likely to be sold before any appeal could be brought or decided, rendering Donald’s appeal rights hollow. This is a textbook example of irreparable harm, and cries out for writ relief.”
The writ filed by the Donald Sterling legal team demanded an immediate stay of the judge’s ruling. It said that in the absence of a stay, the sale could go forward immediately. It noted that the NBA plans to meet on Aug. 15 to approve the sale.
Addressing the ruling by Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas, the document said his action “was unreasonable, arbitrary, a prejudicial abuse of discretion, and manifestly against the law.”