Suit against Shelly Sterling dismissed

LOS ANGELES -- A judge reversed course Monday and dismissed a defamation lawsuit by Donald Sterling's mistress against the estranged wife of the former Los Angeles Clippers owner.

Judge Richard Fruin issued a tentative ruling last week saying he planned to allow the suit, but he reconsidered after arguments from Shelly Sterling's lawyer. It is unusual for a judge to reverse a tentative ruling.

The judge found V. Stiviano presented no evidence to support her claim that Shelly Sterling called her a thief and an embezzler in hundreds if not thousands of media reports. He said she did not present a single quotation to support her claim.

"Stiviano does not identify to whom any such statement was made," Fruin wrote. "There is no information from which it may be determined that any statement, defamatory or not, was made by Mrs. Sterling at all."

The judge also rejected Stiviano's claim that former Clippers president Andy Roeser defamed her at the instruction of Shelly Sterling. He said there was no evidence of that.

Attorney Pierce O'Donnell, who persuaded the judge to dismiss the case, said Stiviano's cross-complaint was an "act of sheer desperation." Shelly Sterling is suing Stiviano for the return of $2.5 million in gifts from her husband.

"Shelly is pleased that this patently frivolous defamation action has been dismissed with prejudice," meaning it cannot be filed again, O'Donnell said.

He added that Stiviano has no defense to Shelly Sterling's lawsuit because the items Stiviano received from Donald Sterling were community property and he had no right to give them away.

"We look forward to our March 9 trial before a Los Angeles jury where Shelly is confident that she will prevail," he said.

Shelly Sterling's lawsuit seeks the return of gifts that include a $1.8 million duplex, a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover worth more than $500,000.

An assistant in the office of Stiviano's attorney, Mac Nehoray, said he was not taking media calls.

Stiviano and the Sterlings made news this past spring. She was the woman Donald Sterling was talking to in a recorded conversation when he made racist remarks that got him banned from the NBA and his team and fined $2.5 million.

Shelly Sterling was put in charge of selling the Clippers and made a record-setting deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who bought the team for $2 billion.