Court upholds decision in Jordan's favor in legal battle with ex-lover

Updated: December 12, 2007, 8:24 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- An Illinois Appellate Court ruled in favor of Michael Jordan on Wednesday in a five-year legal dispute with a woman who alleged the basketball great promised her $5 million to keep quiet over the paternity of a child.

The ruling affirmed a Cook County Circuit Court judge's July 2006 decision that any possible agreement between Jordan and Karla Knafel was "unenforceable" and "voidable" either due to "Knafel's fraudulent misrepresentation to Jordan that he was the child's father" or as a "mutual mistake of fact."

"We are pleased that Michael Jordan's position has been vindicated," said Jordan's attorney, Frederick Sperling.

Knafel, of Indianapolis, alleged that Jordan agreed in 1991 to pay her $5 million when he retired from the NBA as long as she kept their affair confidential and didn't file a paternity lawsuit.

Jordan denied ever promising to pay and sued Knafel in 2002, claiming attempted extortion. Knafel had agreed to a $250,000 payment to remain silent about their relationship after DNA tests showed the child was not his, Jordan said in court documents.

Knafel, who worked as a singer, argued in a counterclaim that she initially thought Jordan was the father.

The $250,000 was for "mental pain and anguish arising from their romantic relationship," according to court records.

Knafel's attorney, Blake Hannafan, said he planned to submit paperwork for the Illinois Supreme Court to consider an appeal.

"We respectfully disagree with the appellate court opinion," Hannafan said. "We're disappointed that the courts have continuously prevented us from seeking the truth."

Jordan divorced wife Juanita after 17 years of marriage last year.

He retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1999, then played for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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