LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has filed a lawsuit against former companion V. Stiviano and the website TMZ.com over the release of a recorded conversation in which Sterling made racially charged comments.
The comments and subsequent release of the recording led to his lifetime ban from the NBA by commissioner Adam Silver and also initiated the eventual sale of the team.
Sterling, 81, filed the lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that the recording was “surreptitious and illicit” and was “illegally disseminated” by Stiviano and TMZ, according to City News Service.
Mac Nehoray, Stiviano’s attorney, says he was unaware of the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.
In the recorded conversation, which was made public in April 2014, Sterling is heard criticizing Stiviano over having her picture taken with black people and told her not to bring black friends Clippers games.
Sterling met with “his former friend” Stiviano on Sept. 12, 2013, for a “social gathering,” according to court documents.
“During this particular social gathering and unbeknownst to Sterling and without his consent, Stiviano surreptitiously recorded a conversation between the two individuals during Sterling’s meeting with Stiviano,” the lawsuit alleges.
Eventually, Stiviano “and/or her agents” gave the recording to TMZ, the lawsuit says. The suit alleges that either Stiviano or the site “doctored and/or otherwise altered the content of the recording on the tape to reflect conversations between (Sterling) and Stiviano that either never occurred, were grossly distorted and/or stated out of context.”
After the tape’s release, Sterling then “became engaged in a bitter probate dispute between his estranged wife, Rochelle H. Sterling, over the disposition of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, culminating with the probate court’s confirmation of the sale of (Sterling’s) former Los Angeles Clippers basketball team on Aug. 7, 2014.”
“As a direct and proximate result of both Stiviano and TMZ’s malfeasance with regard to the illicit recording and subsequent dissemination of the private conversation between Sterling and Stiviano, (Sterling) has been damaged on a scale of unparalleled and unprecedented magnitude,” as stated by the lawsuit.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer eventually acquired the Clippers for $2 billion.
Sterling filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 60 years, Shelly Sterling, last week. Shelly had previously taken legal action against Stiviano, demanding the return of what she argued was community property that her husband had given to Stiviano, whom she described as “a conniving mistress.”
Stiviano was ordered in April to repay Shelly Sterling more than $2.6 million in cash and real estate.