Kristi E. Swartz will cover the trial for the AJC. From her long piece on Saturday:
A court document from Hawks and Thrashers co-owner Steve Belkin probably says it best:Resolution still does not appear imminent but any progress toward the time when someone owns the team outright and must take responsibility for the direction of the franchise is welcome.
“At this time, the parties dispute all issues in this case.”
Belkin is suing his seven business partners — four who live in Atlanta and three who are in the Washington, D.C., area — over how much his 30 percent stake in the teams and Philips Arena’s operating rights are worth. The owners want to buy out Belkin, who lives in Boston, but the contract that spells out that process is so vague that they haven’t been able to agree on a process or a price.
The dispute will come to a head Tuesday in Montgomery County, Md., Circuit Court. It will be up to Judge Durke Thompson to make sense out of the contract and decide whether it’s Belkin or the seven other partners who can select the next appraiser to place a value on the teams and arena operating rights.
The trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, is in Maryland because the owners previously agreed to litigate there. Each side has the right to appeal the judge’s decision, which could drag the already protracted legal process on for another nine months to a year, leaving the ownership of the teams in limbo yet again.