I wrote this morning about the lawsuit Frank McCourt’s former law firm filed against him, seeking a declaration that they did no wrong. Since that time I’ve had a chance to read the complaint (thanks Dodger Divorce!). It seems sillier to me now than it did then.
Basically, the firm admits — as it must — that their lawyer was tasked with making a document that gave Frank the Dodgers and Jamie the houses. That he screwed up the exhibits to the document, allowing an executed copy to float around that fails to do what the McCourts wanted, and instead lists the Dodgers as community property. Then, when the lawyer realized his error, rather than have the wrong document destroyed and have his clients execute a new version that clearly and definitively separates the property, he just switched in the Exhibits, resulting in multiple, conflicting copies of the document to exist, thereby allowing Jamie to be willfully naive about it all and claim she really owned the Dodgers too. Which she did successfully, and the undoing of which will cost Frank McCourt millions. The law firm’s excuse: it was merely a “scrivener’s error,” and that the real bad stuff that has happened to McCourt is all the result of him being a bad baseball owner.
Sorry, not buying it. I mean, sure, Frank McCourt has wrecked the Dodgers all by himself, but if it wasn’t for the law firm’s screwup, he’d at least own it outright and be able to wreck them in peace. The law firm can and does cite any number of ABA ethical guidelines that say that what their employee did was OK, but the fact is that his screwup cost his client big time. Today Frank McCourt’s spokesman said as much:
“Bingham McCutchen drafted an agreement the Court found did not comply with applicable California law and was invalid because of the conduct of the Bingham firm’s lawyers. Mr. McCourt is disappointed that the Bingham firm is unwilling to accept responsibility for its actions and is instead now trying to defend conduct that is indefensible.”
I never thought I’d see the day when I thought Frank McCourt was the sympathetic figure. Me of all people should never have underestimated a law firm like that.