Donald Sterling has filed a lawsuit against celebrity news website TMZ and his former girlfriend, V. Stiviano, over a leaked recording of a conversation that cost the billionaire his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers. The lawsuit was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, media reports said Monday.
The lawsuit reportedly alleged that Stiviano "illicitly" recorded a phone conversation with Sterling in September 2013 that was later published by TMZ. He accused TMZ and Stiviano of violating his privacy and causing damage on a "scale of unparalleled and unprecedented magnitude." Stiviano or TMZ doctored the recording to “reflect conversations … that either never occurred, were grossly distorted and/or stated out of context," Sterling alleged in the lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Stiviano’s attorney, Mac Nehoray, previously told the LA Times that Sterling knew Stiviano recorded him and that she was not in any way linked to the recording’s public release. However, the recording was leaked just weeks after Sterling’s wife, Shelly, filed a lawsuit alleging that Stiviano was her husband’s mistress.
The leaked recording surfaced in April 2014 in which Sterling tells Stiviano not to "broadcast" her friendship with black men, including Los Angeles Lakers’ player Magic Johnson, who appeared with Stiviano in a photo posted on her Instagram account. The racist comments led to Sterling's ban from the NBA and he was fined $2.5 million. Following a series of lawsuits and court hearings, Shelly took control of the Sterling family trust and struck a deal to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who officially became the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers on Aug. 12, 2014.
The latest lawsuit comes just days after the 81-year-old filed for divorce from Shelly, ending nearly 60 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. Despite being in a troubled relationship and fighting each other in several lawsuits, Sterling and his wife together fought to force Stiviano to return a $1.8 million home and $800,000 in cash, gifts, a Ferrari and other luxury cars that the billionaire had given to the 31-year-old.