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Judge rejects injunction in Sterlings' battle for Clippers

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge on Thursday rejected a bid by Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling, to issue an injunction against her husband and his legal team after her attorneys accused them of intimidation.

Shelly Sterling's lawyers had alleged that Sterling, 80, and one of his lawyers had threatened the physicians who deemed that her husband is not mentally fit enough to run the team and should have no say in its NBA record $2 billion sale to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, said he was gratified by the decision.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas told both sides to tone down their high emotions.

Evidence submitted by Shelly Sterling's lawyers included accusations that Sterling shouted "I am going to take you out O'Donnell" to Shelly Sterling's attorney Pierce O'Donnell, who considered it a death threat, according to the filing.

The injunction request was the latest legal twist in a battle for control of the National Basketball Association franchise since Sterling was banned for life from the league in April after private racist remarks he made were taped and leaked publicly.

Shelly Sterling has asked a probate court to confirm her as the controlling owner of the team after Donald Sterling promised to block the franchise's sale.

The physicians found that Sterling has dementia consistent with early Alzheimer's disease. The finding triggers a clause in the Sterling Family Trust that would hand sole control of the Clippers to Shelly Sterling and eliminate any say Sterling could have in its sale.

Sterling also left voice messages for two of the physicians that examined him last month vowing to see them lose their medical license, according to the filing.

A four-day trial in probate court is set to begin on July 7 and offer a resolution ahead of the NBA owners' July 15 vote on whether to approve the sale to Ballmer.

Sterling, who originally approved the deal with Ballmer, has also sued the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver for at least $1 billion, alleging he was forced to sell the team due to a recording made illegally according to California law.

Silver has said an agreement struck with Shelly Sterling indemnifies the league against any legal action taken by her husband, so the Sterling Family Trust would have to pay any possible damages awarded.

(Editing by Bernard Orr)

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