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April 14, 2008 10:44 PM

Schultz rides to the rescue?

Posted by Percy Allen

Howard Schultz has taken a beating in Seattle from fans who hold him responsible for the demise of the Sonics, especially now since the new owners plan to move the team to Oklahoma City.

But in light of the emails from the Sonics ownership group that were released last week, Schultz plans to sue Clay Bennett to rescind the July 2006 sale of the Sonics and reclaim the team.

Here's our story.

This is not a joke. Schultz vs. Bennett. The suit is expected to be filed within a few weeks.

Schultz hired attorney Richard Yarmuth of the Seattle-based law firm Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo who has an impressive resume and considerable expertise in these types of cases.

I spoke with Yarmuth earlier today and below is a portion of that interview.

(Before we get into this case, I hear you have some experience in these cases. Can you bring me up to speed?) "That's because you're new and I'm old. I'm a lawyer here in Seattle and most recently in 1986, I was the attorney for King County in the lawsuit that King County brought against the Mariners at that point owned by George Argyos when he tried to break the lease at the Kingdome and move the team to San Diego. So represented King County and we successfully got a court to order that the lease was enforceable and he couldnt leave.

"Beyond that, back in the early 1970s the lawfirm that I was previously with William Dwyer as the chief counsel sued the American baseball league when the Pilots got moved to Milwaukee and Seattle was left without a baseball team. Our firm sued Major League Baseball claiming that it had gotten us to build this Kingdome on the promise of a Major League baseball team and then when we had the team, it decided to take it away and moved it to Milwaukee.

"That case actually went to trial against Major League baseball and during the trial it was settled with Major League baseball agreeing that the next time it expanded, which was going to be in two years, that both the Mariners and Toronto would be created as expansion franchise.

"I was also on the committee that Slade (Gorton), we called it the Sarkowski committee, I was one of the members of the committee when Slade found an owner when Jeff Smuylan owned the team and he was threatening to break the lease and move it. Slade Gorton was part of the group that found Nintendo and the current Mariners ownership group to save the team. That was called the Sarkowski commission after Herman Sarkowski who was a notable figure in the city.

"So anyway those are some of the notable events I've been involved in over the years with regards to teams that don't seem to want to stay put."

Schultz vs. Bennett.

Nearly two years after the sale of the Sonics, who would have thought this saga would have taken this type of turn.

I'm traveling to the Bay Area tomorrow for Wednesday's season finale, but I'll post more on this story on Tuesday.

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