Personal Injury, Probate, Employment, & Complex Litigation


Lakers Trust Issues

The Buss Family Trust owns 66% of the Los Angeles Lakers. Since the death of Jerry Buss the Lakers have been run by Jeanie Buss, Jerry’s daughter, pursuant to the Trust. However, Jim Buss, Jerry’s son, has acted as the head of basketball operations since Jerry’s death. That changed a couple of weeks ago when Jeanie Buss fired her brother from that job. In response, Jim and his brother Johnny called an emergency vote to install a new board of directors.

Now, this is where the story goes from being pure gossip to quite a bit of technical intricacies (that I swear will eventually lead to a discussion on Trust topics). In order for Jeanie Buss to continue as the controlling owner of the Lakers she needs to be on the board of directors, however, of the names floated around by Jim and Johnny, not one of them was the name “Jeanie.”

So in effect what the Buss boys were trying to do was wrest control of the team away from Jeanie. While the Trust names Jeanie as the owner, if the technical machinations prevent that from happening, then there is nothing the Trust can do. Or at least that is what their thought process was.

Instead, Jeanie went to court on a petition to order the co-trustees follow the terms of the Trust, which would include ensuring that Jeanie maintains the controlling owner. Well who are the co-trustees? Jeanie, Jim, and Johnny. So effectively, the trustees of the Trust were trying to make it impossible for them to follow the terms of the Trust (namely have Jeanie be the controlling owner) so that they wouldn’t be in violation of the Trust when they ousted her from control. The problem is that they were still doing all of this from their position as co-trustees, and as co-trustees they get to decide who is on the board of directors (or at least three of the seats). So it wouldn’t be from uncontrollable circumstances that Jeanie would be ousted, but instead it would be from the direct actions of the co-trustees, in violation of the Trust.

Before the court could hear the arguments and officially order the Buss brothers to act in accordance of the Trust (which could have far reaching impact regarding their ability to stay partially in control of the Trust) they signed a document reaffirmed Jeanie as a board member and controlling owner of the Lakers.

A full breakdown of the factual events can be found at this LA Times article.