Major League Baseball’s Marlins are from Miami. But in court, they are arguing they are from the British Virgin Islands
The Marlins are claiming corporate citizenship in the foreign territory to have an arbitrator take over a lawsuit filed by Miami and Miami-Dade County in a dispute over the profits from the team’s sale last year, according to the Miami Herald.
The team’s former owner, Jeffrey Loria, claimed a $140 million loss when he sold the team in 2017 to a company owned by Derek Jeter and New York-based investor Bruce Sherman for a reported $1.2 billion, leaving Miami-Dade County with nothing despite a 2009 profit-sharing agreement that required him to turn over 5 percent of the proceeds.
Lawyers for the Marlins have argued in court that because at least one corporation that has ownership in the team is located in the Caribbean, it should be treated as an international dispute, the Herald reported.
Lawyers for Miami-Dade have denounced the claim.
“This is the most local of disputes, involving a locally-negotiated contract made between local parties under local law and requiring local performance,” Miami-Dade lawyers wrote in an argument to keep the lawsuit in circuit court.
The Marlins hope to move the case to arbitration, instead of having it heard by a county judge who has already sided with Miami, which owns the team’s parking garages, and Miami-Dade, which owns its stadium, in a preliminary ruling, the Herald reported.
The current owner’s lawyers argue that the dispute should be between Miami and Miami-Dade and Loria. But in February when it filed the lawsuit, the county named both a Loria entity and the new Marlins ownership on the lawsuit, the Herald reported.
“This claim has absolutely nothing to do with the ownership group,” said a statement from the team in February. “We expect the previous ownership and the County to resolve this dispute in an expeditious manner.”
The Marlins did not return a message requesting comment. The British Virgin Islands entity, Abernue Ltd., is a part owner of Marlins Holdings LLC, which owns Marlins Funding, which owns Marlins Teamco, the company that owns the team, the Herald reported, noting that the lawsuit did not identify the origins of those companies.
by Eli Rosenberg – washingtonpost.com