Shelly Sterling lawyer alleges Clippers owner made death threat

Pierce O'Donnell, attorney for Shelly Sterling, speaks to reporters with his partner, Marc Stern, and Adam Streisand (R), attorney for Steve Ballmer, looking on as he arrives at Los Angeles Superior Court on June 11, 2014. David McNew, Getty Images

Last Updated Jun 19, 2014 3:30 PM EDT

LOS ANGELES -- A judge denied a request by Shelly Sterling's attorneys Thursday to hold a hearing on allegations that Donald Sterling and his attorneys threatened her legal team and the doctors who assert that the Los Angeles Clippers' co-owner is mentally incapacitated.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas ruled in writing that the statements cited in the petition did not "rise to the level of great and irreparable injury." The judge also commented that the case may involve "high emotions and some litigation posturing" and he asked all parties to tone down their pretrial communications.

The physicians could be key witnesses in a trial scheduled for next month to determine if Donald Sterling was properly removed as an administrator under the terms of the family trust, which owns the Clippers, leaving Shelly Sterling alone as trustee with authority to sell the team. A $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer is pending.

The filing stated that on June 9 Donald Sterling called Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, threatened lawsuits, and said: "I am going to take you out, O'Donnell." O'Donnell understood that to be a death threat.

The document also alleged Donald Sterling called one of the physicians, Dr. Meril Platzer, told her she's "nothing but a fraud and a liar and a cheat" and menacingly warned, "I'm going to see that you lose your license." He also was said to have threatened to sue Platzer and made similar threats in a profanity-laden message left for a second doctor, James E. Spar.

"I'm gonna get you fired from UCLA because you're nothing but a tramp. How dare you let someone use you that way?" Sterling said. "You know, you rely on doctors. You think that they'll be above it all. But obviously you're not. You'll sell yourself for nothing. How dare you? How dare you give my records to a lawyer for the purposes of using it against me?"

The filing also contended that Donald Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini, followed up with a letter to each doctor accusing them of being a part of a conspiracy. The document called it a clear attempt to intimidate key witnesses in the case.

Outside court, Samini said his office had been bombarded with calls from representatives of Shelly Sterling urging them to settle the case.

He contended that the call cited in O'Donnell's papers was made by O'Donnell to his office and he turned the phone over to Donald Sterling.

"It was quite entertaining," Samini said. "I didn't hear any threats."

He said that the suggestion by O'Donnell that Donald Sterling could hurt anyone is "ludicrous."

"Mr. Sterling has no criminal past. He is a law-abiding citizen," he said.

Samini said he wrote letters to the doctors because he felt Donald Sterling's medical records were disseminated to the media inappropriately. He also said he believed that the doctors had been hired to give specific evaluations of Donald Sterling, which were suggested to them by Shelly Sterling's team. Samini said he has engaged other doctors to examine Donald Sterling and "the results are different and there are more to come."

He said those would be released in court during the trial now scheduled for July 7.

The terms of the trust state that two licensed physicians can determine a trustee "incapacitated" and both parties must cooperate in any such examination. Both Sterlings signed the terms, which also waive doctor-patient privilege and privacy rights for any "incapacitation" finding.

Last month, Donald Sterling's attorney told CBS News the diagnosis of the 80-year-old being mentally incapacitated is a "vast overstatement" and that Sterling only has a "modest mental impairment" and is "slowing down."

Outside court, O'Donnell said what he considered a threat from Sterling came on the same day that Sterling went on a rant about the NBA, calling its board members "despicable monsters."

He also said the doctors threatened by the 80-year-old Donald Sterling were shaken and one of them, Platzer, said she had misgivings about whether she should have gotten involved in the case. In her declaration, she wrote that she believed Sterling and his attorneys are "attempting to bully me into changing my opinion regarding Mr. Sterling's incapacity. I also do not want to be intimidated if I testify in this matter."

Attached to the motion were letters from Samini to the doctors instructing them to not communicate further with anyone on Donald Sterling's medical condition or treatments without his prior consent.

"Your conduct has already constituted interference with prospective economic advantage as part of a conspiracy," one letter dated June 10 said.

Shelly Sterling's potentially record-breaking deal with Ballmer was struck after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved to oust him as team owner, fined him $2.5 million and banned him for life.

Donald Sterling has filed suit against the NBA for $1 billion in federal court alleging that the league violated his constitutional rights, committed breach of contract and violated antitrust laws. Sterling has also hired four private investigation firms to dig up potential dirt on the NBA's former and current commissioner and its owners for the case.

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