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A Thursday morning hearing will serve as the opening act of a legal drama between Jeffrey Loria, former owner of the Miami Marlins, Derek Jeter, a current owner, and Miami-Dade County, longtime owner of the team’s ballpark.
The dispute centers around Loria’s assertion that he owes nothing to Miami-Dade or Miami from his $1.2 billion sale of the franchise to Jeter and partners, despite a 2009 profit-sharing agreement that gives both governments a claim to 5 percent of the proceeds in exchange for more than $400 million in public money to build the ballpark and surrounding parking garages.
Citing deductions allowed in the original deal, Loria’s lawyers and accountants claimed a $140 million paper loss on the deal. County lawyers called that bogus in a lawsuit filed last week against the Loria entity that used to own the team and the new entity Jeter and partners formed to buy the Marlins in October.
Judge Beatrice Butchko, with the complex litigation division of Miami-Dade Circuit Court, has the case and scheduled a 10:30 a.m. hearing for Thursday. Miami-Dade wants an injunction to have more time to respond to Loria’s financial claims and to prevent the Jeter group from draining the $50 million set aside from sales proceeds to cover any disputed expenses, including county and city claims.
The Marlins say the team has no exposure in the dispute, saying the sales agreement assigned any exposure on profit-sharing to Loria. But the county suit names the new ownership as co-defendants, saying the team is responsible for satisfying the requirements of the 2009 agreement.