Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly is full of it….
We were just enjoying a glass of champagne to celebrate our upgrade to corporate status when someone told me about the lawsuit involving Shelly Sterling – wife of Clippers owner Donald Sterling – and his alleged paramour, the Afro Asian beauty V. Stiviano. Apparently Shelly has brought suit in LA Superior Court against V. Stiviano – an alleged lover of her husband’s because Shelly (and probably her husband too) wants V. Stiviano to return all the cash, real estate and expensive cars her husband gave to this paramour. Can she do that? Well apparently Shelly and Donald have done this before with another one of his Mexican lovers years back and ended up settling privately with the girl. This is their M.O. So V. Stiviano is probably rightly scared. But she shouldn’t be.
I certainly am not an expert on community property laws in their jurisdiction out there in California but my first reaction was: Sounds like horse manure to me. Obviously I am not a lawyer but I did do a little bit of research into this community property bit and found this quote (for Texas) which, obviously is not applicable in the Sterling case but does provide good rhetoric:
Sec. 3.104. PROTECTION OF THIRD PERSONS. (a) During marriage, property is presumed to be subject to the sole management, control, and disposition of a spouse if it is held in that spouse’s name, as shown by muniment, contract, deposit of funds, or other evidence of ownership, or if it is in that spouse’s possession and is not subject to such evidence of ownership.
(b) A third person dealing with a spouse is entitled to rely, as against the other spouse or anyone claiming from that spouse, on that spouse’s authority to deal with the property if:
(1) the property is presumed to be subject to the sole management, control, and disposition of the spouse; and
(2) the person dealing with the spouse:
(A) is not a party to a fraud on the other spouse or another person; and
(B) does not have actual or constructive notice of the spouse’s lack of authority.
If I were a lawyer for Stiviano, seems to me this case should be a slam dunk. Because whatever was the nature of their relationship, Donald Sterling obviously freely transferred title to these “gifts” to this woman who is a third party.
The law does seem to offer special protections for third parties in these situations. What if, for example, he had sold her these items. Would the cash be considered community property? Technically, yes. If they divorced and there was cash from the sale of these items he would have had to split the proceeds 50/50 in a community property scheme. But what if they didn’t divorce? And he used the cash to buy an expensive toy of some sort. Would he have needed Shelly’s permission in order to either sell the items or spend the money on something else? Or would he have had the authority to manage these transactions as he saw fit? The point I am awkwardly trying to make is that even with community property, spouses do have sole management and control. So, as another example, if he had used the money to buy illicit narcotics, and the cops found out about it, they could not come after Shelly just because the funds originally were “community property.” Clearly, in this case, he acted alone and with his own sole authority and discretion and therefore would be solely responsible. More simply, if he had sold her these items, Shelly could not go and sue to get the items back claiming he did not have her permission for the sale under the community property rules because the buyer needs to reasonably be protected after having relied on the spouse in a situation such as this.
V. Stiviano clearly and reasonably believed that Donald Sterling had “sole management and control and DISPOSITION” authority of these gifts and she relied on this belief that he had the authority to dispose of these items and gift them to her. If her lawyers lose this case, they are full of it; this should be a slam dunk for them.
And I think Shelly is off the rails to come back years later and try to bring this bogus lawsuit. This is about her jealousy. California does not allow “alienation of affection” lawsuits so this is the next best thing. She should be time barred, frankly, due to laches. Cause she knew about this “friendship” according to reports and she slept on her “right” to sue for years. What she needs to do is file for divorce from this guy cause he obviously can’t keep it in his pants. This is not the first time she has had to resort to blaming the other woman for his behavior.
Don’t get me wrong: I think there are some things Donald would have needed Shelly’s permission prior to disposition. For example, if the real estate, land or car was a joint asset for which both spouses held title – if an item was specifically deeded jointly to both spouses he would have had to obtain her permission. But as with debts, there can be “several” liability and “several” authority even in a community property jurisdiction. Hence, in my humble opinion, Shelly Sterling’s lawsuit against V Stiviano is a crock of horse manure. But don’t quote me on this. I have probably had one too many glasses of champagne.