Mums the word for James Dolan.
The MSG Chairman and CEO is fighting an attempt to get him to sit for a deposition in the three-way battle over a land deal between the Azoff MSG Entertainment-controlled Forum, the city of Inglewood and the LA Clippers, who want to build a 22,000-seat arena down the street from the Forum.
Dolan’s lawyers are fighting to keep him from having to be deposed in the the case, which began when Dolan’s lawyer Mark Cresitello signed a lease termination on land that the Forum once had the right to use as a parking lot for their events, only to be coaxed into handing the land back to Inglewood Mayor James Butts who then allegedly turned around and began negotiations for the Clippers to begin developing a competing arena less than two miles from the Forum.
The Forum has filed a 10-count lawsuit against the city of Inglewood, arguing they were tricked into terminating the parking lease and accusing the city’s mayor James Butts of breach of contract, fraud and interference. As the two battle it out in court and prepare to enter the discovery phase of the trial, Dolan has made it very clear to his attorneys and subordinates that he does not want to be deposed.
The attempt to get Dolan to sit for a deposition “is not calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,” Dolan’s attorney Rob Ellison wrote in a recent motion to quash and attempt to get Dolan to testify, and is allegedly “designed solely to harass, oppress, and burden” the MSG boss.
Ellison, who works at law firm Latham & Watkins, says Dolan was not involved in the day to day details of the parking lease, or the plan to develop the Forum for that matter, and has no “unique or superior personal knowledge” about what took place.
“You have not exhausted other discovery, as required to take the deposition of such a high-ranking officer,” Ellison writes in a letter to Inglewood attorney Jason Tokoro. “As such, your attempt to take his deposition runs afoul of the apex doctrine,” Ellison wrote.
Ellison also points out that a number of Azoff MSG Entertainment executives have agreed to sit for depositions including Irving Azoff and former GM Nick Spampamato, who is stepping down from his position at MSG later this month. Also being deposed is Mayor Butts.
In a separate declaration, Spampanato said Dolan was never really involved in the decision to terminate the lease or the Forum, or in the negotiations that led to the Forum being built.
“Mr. Dolan was not involved in any significant way in the negotiation, drafting, execution, or enforcement of the Owner Participation Agreement, the Development Agreement, or the Parking Lease at issue in this case,” Spampanato wrote, adding that Dolan only had “one meeting with Mayor Butts during the process,” noting “that meeting did not involve significant substantive negotiation.”
A hearing on the whether or not Dolan will have to sit for a deposition is scheduled for Nov. 2.
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