Monday, September 27, 2010

Lawyer: Flap in McCourt case may cost firm millions

A Boston attorney who handles legal malpractice cases said an error in a postnuptial agreement could cost the Bingham McCutchen firm millions.

“If I was a client and I lost the division of property assets based on faulty paperwork by another law firm, I would explore the possibility of going after that law firm,” said Bernard J. Hamill, a legal malpractice attorney in Boston.

At issue in the divorce case of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie, is the wording of the agreement signed by the couple in happier times in 2004. Three copies of the documents reportedly use the word “inclusive” - making Frank McCourt sole owner of the team - while three other copies say “exclusive,” which would make Jamie McCourt a co-owner.

“It seems odd to have the whole issue turn on a word, include or exclude,” Hamill said. “Without seeing the volume of paperwork, it sounds like it could be a drafting error.”

Larry Silverstein of Bingham McCutchen, who once represented Jamie and Frank McCourt, denies he committed fraud when he switched a key portion of the postnup.

Silverstein was on the witness stand yesterday for the third consecutive day in the couple’s divorce trial. He rejected an allegation from Jamie McCourt’s attorneys that he and Frank McCourt engaged in fraud when the correction was made without telling their client. Frank McCourt also has denied the claim.

Silverstein says he fixed a mistake in the agreement to give McCourt sole ownership.

Jamie McCourt is seeking a stake in the Dodgers under California’s community property law.

The trial is slated to take a break today so attorneys can go into mediation, according to a person familiar with the case.

Lawyer: Flap in McCourt case may cost firm millions

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