Former minority partners charge Selig, Loria with fraudPosted: Monday July 15, 2002 9:45 PM
Updated: Tuesday July 16, 2002 3:06 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The former minority partners of the Montreal Expos are filing a lawsuit charging baseball commissioner Bud Selig and former team owner Jeffrey Loria with fraud.
The 14 owners planned to file the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Miami under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a person close to the lawyers for the minority partners, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said Monday on the condition he not be identified.
The lawsuit concerns the proposed contraction of the Expos, the group said Monday in a statement that did not go into details. The 14 corporate entities, who together owned 6-to-7 percent of the Expos, currently own 6-to-7 percent of the Florida Marlins.
The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, which are tripled, plus $100 million in punitive damages, the person close to the lawyers said.
The suit contends Loria and Marlins president David Samson conspired with baseball officials to dilute the minority partners' share of the team from 76 percent to 6-to-7 percent and never intended to keep the franchise in Montreal.
Earlier this year, Loria's holding company sold the Expos to a company owned by the other 29 major league teams and purchased the Florida Marlins from John Henry, who became controlling owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Defendants in the lawsuit will include Selig, Loria, baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy, the commissioner's office and Samson, who had been executive vice president of the Expos under Loria's ownership.
The plaintiffs include BCE Inc., BMO Nesbitt Inc., Cascades Inc., Esarbee Investments Ltd., Fairmont Canadian Resorts and Hotels Ltd., Federation des Caisses Populaires Desjardins du Quebec, Fonds de Solidarite des travailleurs du Quebec, Freemark Holdings Inc., Loblaws Inc., M & S Sports Inc., Provigo Inc., Telemedia Communications Inc., 98362 Canada Inc. and 114114 Canada Inc.
Stephen Bronfman, the son of former Expos controlling partner Charles Bronfman, is a principal in Esarbee, and L. Jacques Menard, the Expos' former chairman, is the principal of BMO Nesbitt Inc.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges has done work in the past for several players' associations and also represents the San Francisco Giants' Jeff Kent and Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. The firm also has represented the city of Oakland in its lawsuit against the NFL's Raiders and owner Al Davis.
Samson and DuPuy declined comment, saying they would first have to see what is in the suit.
Selig and baseball owners attempted to fold the Expos and Minnesota Twins during the offseason but contraction was put off until 2003 at the earliest when Minnesota courts forced the Twins to honor their 2002 lease at the Metrodome.