Originally created 07/25/02

Oct. 11 conference set in Expos' suit

NEW YORK -- A federal judge scheduled an Oct. 11 conference for the racketeering suit filed against baseball commissioner Bud Selig and former Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria by unhappy Canadian investors.

Fourteen Canadian corporations filed suit last week in U.S. District Court in Miami, accusing Selig, Loria and their staffs of mail fraud and wire fraud. Loria and Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, have denied the charges, saying the suit was without merit.

Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for Loria's limited partners, said on Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Ursula M. Ungaro-Benages scheduled the conference. Kessler will try to work out details of document discovery with baseball's lawyers, who are expected to resist handing over documents and to move for the case to be dismissed.

"We'll start negotiating with the other side about schedules," Kessler said. "The conference resolves anything not agreed to."

Kessler said last week that if baseball attempts to move the Expos or to fold the franchise after this season, his side will ask for an injunction that would keep the team in place pending a trial.

Loria's 14 limited partners - now unwillingly his partners in the Florida Marlins - filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They accused Selig, Loria and their staffs of illegal conduct that "effectively destroyed the economic viability of baseball in Montreal."

Baseball spokesman Rich Levin declined comment on the scheduling order.


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