Note to Self: Remember not to unilaterally change the text of contracts that have
been signed (via Adams Drafting), even if it's only to "fix"
The dispute over who owns the Dodgers may turn on one
word. It is the 12th word of the second paragraph of the first exhibit of an
agreement signed by Frank and Jamie McCourt six years ago. If that word
is "inclusive," Frank could be the sole owner of the Dodgers. If that
word is "exclusive," Jamie could be the co-owner. Three
copies of the agreement say "inclusive." Three copies say
"exclusive." Frank and Jamie have both said they were not aware of
the different wording until this year. The difference in the words: two
letters, and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.
The two primary questions for Silverstein [the lawyer]:
How does he explain the conflicting language in the various copies of the
agreement, and why did he apparently substitute one version for another without
notifying his clients of the discrepancy?
"The lawyer will have to explain why he would
unilaterally change a document without getting everyone's permission,"
said Andrew Waxler, whose El Segundo firm specializes in representing
defendants in legal malpractice cases.
Frank McCourt's lawyers have said Silverstein simply made
a drafting error and corrected it. In his testimony, Frank said Silverstein did
not materially change the agreement by substituting an exhibit that read
"inclusive" for one that read "exclusive" after the parties
had signed the document.
What with clients sending you only signature pages, it
becomes very tempting to make a quick little change in a document that no one
will notice. They don't notice ... until they do ...
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