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Friday, April 11, 2008
Did Clay Bennett Lie About His "Good Faith" Intent to Keep Sonics in Seattle?

Jim Brunner and Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times have an interesting piece today on new e-mail evidence suggesting that Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett and other members of his SuperSonics ownership group violated the "good faith" contractual pledge to keep the franchise in Seattle. The city of Seattle has sued to keep the franchise in Seattle, while the Bennett group, which purchased the franchise in 2006 with expectations that the city would provide substantial tax dollars for a new statidum or a renovated KeyArena, intends to relocate the franchise to Oklahoma City no later than when the team's lease with the KeyArena expires in 2010. New e-mails have surfaced that appear to confirm suspicions that the Bennett group never intended to keep the franchise in Seattle.

I was interviewed for the story and hope you have a chance to check it out.


Didn't the city of Seattle renovate the Key Arena (then the Seattle Center Coliseum) in about 1993 or '94, before the Sonics lost to the Bulls in 1995(?).

If so, why does the arena need replacing or another renovation, barely a decade after its LAST renovation?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/11/2008 11:48 PM  

I do not think the e-mails can get the City an injunction but it is a basis for Schultz now to rescind the original deal. Questions are whether his group wants to give back all the money.

Blogger qtlaw24 -- 4/16/2008 2:49 PM  

Schultz's attornet has announced that he will sue to reverse sale. I'm anxious to see McCann comment on such a suit.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/16/2008 4:10 PM  

What does the contract expressly state? -- that's the key question and the article doesn't quote any language from the contract.

An obligation to use good faith efforts (whether express or implied) requires the party to try to make something happen -- intentions are irrelevant. And sometimes the parties expressly provide for "best efforts" to do something. Bennett can personally hope all he wants that they would end up in Oklahoma AS LONG AS he continues to make efforts to try to keep the team in Seattle (which arguably he has done). Contract law doesn't care about a person's state of mind. People enter contracts all the time, hoping for a different outcome (for example that the market price will increase or drop).

But if the contract provides that his "present intention on the date of the agreement is to keep the team in Seattle," that's a representation, not an obligation. Then it's a factual question about his intent AT THE TIME the agreement was entered into -- and good luck proving that one. If he changed his intent after signing the agreement, then he hasn't breached that representation.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 4/18/2008 6:36 AM  

I disagree that it would be that far-fetched to prove the misrepresentation at the time of the contract formation. Bennett could claim that his intent changed after formation of the contract, but is that really believable??? It seems to me that Bennett is going to need to get on the stand and make that claim and the factfinder would need to assess his credibility. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence to the contrary. Doesn't this come down to the preponderance of the evidence? Maybe I'm missing something???

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/10/2008 3:53 PM  

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