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Donald Sterling accused of threatening to 'take out' wife's lawyer, sue doctors

By Faith Karimi and Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 7:14 AM EDT, Fri June 20, 2014
  • Sterling allegedly left intimidating voice mail messages for two doctors
  • He threatens to sue the two after they declared him mentally unfit
  • Both will present their evidence in court on behalf of his wife, Shelly Sterling

(CNN) -- Donald Sterling can't seem to avoid trouble over recorded phone calls.

In the latest twist to a downfall triggered by more recordings, the Los Angeles Clippers' owner allegedly threatened to "take out" his wife's lawyer and sue two doctors who declared him mentally unfit.

He made several calls to the doctors this month and left profanity-laced voice mails to intimidate them out of testifying next month, according to attorneys for his wife, Shelly Sterling.

"I'm not incompetent. You're (expletive) incompetent, you stupid (expletive) doctor," he said in a June 9 voice mail provided by his wife's attorneys.

Judge denies Sterling witness order

'How dare you'

In the message, he identifies himself and expresses anger about the release of his medical records.

"There's an ethical issue here. ... How dare you give my records to a lawyer for the purpose of using it against me?" he demands. "You're nothing but a fraud and a liar and a cheat, and I'm going to see that you lose your license, and I'm suing you for conspiracy."

Sterling made the calls to two doctors, James Spar and Meril Platzer, who diagnosed him as mentally incapacitated.

Both will present their evidence in court on behalf of Shelly Sterling, who's vying to uphold a negotiated sale of the Clippers.

Death threat?

His wife's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said Sterling targeted him as well and threatened to "take you out."

"I took that as a death threat," O'Donnell said. "That hasn't happened in 40 years as a trial lawyer."

Donald Sterling waived doctor-patient confidentiality in connection with his mental evaluation, Shelly Sterling's attorneys said in court papers, an assertion denied by his lawyers.

She asked a judge to order her husband and his legal team to stop contacting and harassing witnesses involved in the court battle.

Los Angeles Judge Michael Levanas on Thursday rejected the wife's request to keep her husband and his lawyers away from witnesses, saying her assertions don't "rise to the level of great and irreparable injury."

"It is probably no surprise to anyone that this case might involve high emotions and some litigation posturing," the judge wrote.

Deal to sell the team

Donald Sterling's attorneys admitted he left the voice mails, but they said he meant no harm and was just distressed that his medical records were publicized.

The two physicians who examined Donald Sterling didn't have his permission to talk to third parties, said Bobby Samini, another attorney for Donald Sterling,

In next month's probate court trial, Shelly Sterling will ask the court to uphold her deal to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

Her decision to go to probate court follows a ruling by three physicians that her 80-year-old husband is mentally incapacitated and shows early Alzheimer's or other brain disease.

The couple co-owns the basketball team. If one of the trustees is declared mentally incapacitated, the other becomes the lone trustee, according to records. His wife used that provision to negotiate the deal with Ballmer.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after a different recording appeared in April in which he made a series of racist comments to a friend.

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