Marlins claim British Virgin Islands citizenship

Getty Images
34 Comments

We’ve written before about the lawsuit filed by Miami-Dade authorities against Jeff Loria and the Miami Marlins regarding the profits from the sale of the team. Short version: under the agreement to build Marlins Park, the county was owed a cut of the profits when the team was sold. Loria, quite dubiously, is claiming no profits from the sale so he and the team he no longer owns got sued.

The current Marlins regime, while not directly in the crosshairs of the suit, are necessary parties. But they are necessary parties that do not want to be in a Miami courtroom, it seems. Indeed, they so don’t want to be in a Miami courtroom, they’re claiming to be a British Virgin Islands concern. From the Miami Herald:

The Miami Marlins are claiming corporate citizenship in the British Virgin Islands in an effort to have a federally appointed arbitrator take over the lawsuit by Miami and Miami-Dade County to recover a share of the profits from Jeffrey Loria’s $1.2 billion sale of the team to Derek Jeter and partners last fall.

Lawyers representing the Marlins told a federal judge that at least one corporation that owns part of Marlins Teamco — the company Jeter and majority owner Bruce Sherman formed last year to buy the franchise — is based in the Caribbean. As a result, team lawyers argued, the dispute with Miami-Dade should be governed by jurisdictional rules that apply to international disputes.

I haven’t had to think about international venue matters since I was in law school and that was over 20 years ago, so I’m pretty hazy here, but what few synapses are firing in response to this suggest to me that it’s not a patently ridiculous argument, legally speaking. It’s just an argument that is pretty chuckle-inducing coming from a team owned by the closest thing we have to a baseball Captain America in Derek Jeter regarding what is pretty clearly a local dispute. Miami-Dade, understandably, is pushing back hard on this idea, though I have no idea if it’ll work.

In other news, The Marlins drew 7,000 fans to last night’s game in Miami. I guess the hometown fans from the British Virgin Islands don’t travel as well as say, Alabama or Ohio St. fans.