Frank McCourt Divorce Trial, Day Eight: Larry Silverstein Gets Woozy, But Manages To Explain His Contract Mistake
Day Eight. The Dodgers are 12 games out of first place, and have been eliminated from the playoffs.
Larry Silverstein made it through a full day of testimony today, though he's on doctor's orders not to go past noon. He looked woozy at about 3 p.m., but after a break to collect himself, he was able to finish the day.
It must have helped that in the afternoon he was questioned by Frank's lawyer, Victoria Cook, who was a bit friendlier than David Boies.
Under her direction, he was able to give his version of how he screwed up the McCourts' marital property agreement. That's the mistake we are calling Silverstein's Boner, and it could cost Frank the Dodgers and torpedo the law firm of Bingham McCutchen.
So, for background, remember that Silverstein drafted six copies of Frank and Jamie's marital property agreement in 2004. Three copies gave the Dodgers to Frank, while the other three left the team as Frank and Jamie's joint property.
Now, there's no dispute that Silverstein screwed up. But there is a dispute about how he screwed up.
Silverstein's account, which Frank supports, is that there was no disagreement between Frank and Jamie about what the document was supposed to say. It was supposed to give the Dodgers to Frank.
Silverstein made a mistake by writing that Frank's separate stock and securities assets were "exclusive" of the Dodgers. What he meant to write was that Frank's stock and securities assets consisted "exclusively" of the Dodgers.
"I just garbled the list," he testified. "It was a draft, and I corrected it within 24 hours. I just garbled the language."
Unfortunately for Silverstein and his firm's malpractice insurance carrier, that error made it onto three copies of the agreement. Silverstein says he just didn't catch it when Frank and Jamie signed all six copies.
"I wish I had," he said.
Now, Jamie's side has a different explanation. In their version, there was a tug-of-war between Frank and Jamie over whether the Dodgers should be joint property or Frank's alone. When Silverstein talked to Jamie on March 29, 2004, he changed the list of Frank's assets to say "exclusive" of the Dodgers -- meaning it would be jointly held. That's what Jamie now says she wanted.
But then Silverstein met with Frank on March 30. During that meeting, Silverstein changed the list of Frank's separate assets to include the Dodgers. In essence, he was siding with Frank in the tug-of-war over the team, while purporting to represent both Frank and Jamie. He didn't tell Jamie he had made this change before she signed the agreement on March 31.
Silverstein's mistake, according to Jamie's side, was that he failed to change the schedule of Frank's assets on all six copies. He only changed it on three. In other words, he bungled the effort to deprive Jamie of her interest in the Dodgers.
Whichever version you believe, you wind up with Silverstein potentially costing Frank the team. So, yeah, you'd be woozy, too.
Meanwhile, commenter Larry Norris has written in to defend the honor of Fred Merkle, Silverstein's spiritual ancestor:
Merkle was a victim of a malicious press that carried its muckraking venom into every facet of news coverage. The 19-year-old was mercilessly ridiculed. The truth is that Merkle was a pretty smart guy with a funny name who was running the bases the way everyone else was in that day. The entire story is in our book, Public Bonehead, Private Hero,
Will anyone come along in 100 years to redeem Larry Silverstein?
Full McCourt coverage:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.