Donald Sterling plans to a file a lawsuit Friday against the NBA seeking damages in excess of $1 billion, according to his lawyer. The move comes one day after former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 Billion.
Sterling’s attorney Max Blecher told ESPN the embattled Clippers owner was suing the league for over his lifetime ban and termination charges and that the lawsuit “had nothing to do with the sale.”
“The charges in the lawsuit are an invasion of his constitutional rights,” Blecher said.
NBA officials are reviewing the pending sale of the team but confirmed the news in a statement.
“Commissioner (Adam) Silver has consistently said the preferred outcome to the Clippers proceeding would be a voluntary sale of the team,” according to the league. “Shelly Sterling advised the NBA last night that an agreement had been reached with Steve Ballmer, and the NBA Advisory/Finance Committee met via conference call this morning to discuss these developments.”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported Thursday that Sterling’s wife was given authority to sell the team after experts declared the 80 year-old mentally incapacitated.
Update: In the lawsuit filed late Friday, Sterling contends that the basis for the NBA’s action is “unconstitutional, in breach of contract, in restraint of trade, in breach of fiduciary duties, and is malicious and oppressive.” It claims that the charges the league cited in banning him were based on evidence that is inadmissible.
The suit contends that because V. Stiviano, named as his “lover,” recorded the private conversation that was later posted to TMZ, she violated state law because it was done without his consent. The suit cites language from the state law saying that such a recording would be inadmissible “in any judicial, administrative, legislative, or other proceeding.”
The suit also claims violation of antitrust law, contending that “the ‘forced sale’ process involves the unfettered subjective discretion of Sterling’s direct competitors who each stand to gain financially from Sterling’s exclusion from the market.”
“The forced sale of the Clippers threatens not only to produce a lower price than a non-forced sale, but more importantly, it injures competition and creates antitrust injury by making the relevant market unresponsive to consumer preference and to the operation of the free market,” the suit says.