Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins are claiming citizenship in the British Virgin Islands with hopes of finding an advantage in the courtroom.
- The Miami Marlins are arguing in court that the team, as a corporate entity, is based in the British Virgin Islands, rather than the United States.
- The legal argument is an effort by the team to move a lawsuit filed by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County from the county to federal court.
- Lawyers for the county mocked the move, referring to the team as the Jeter Marlins throughout their response.
In what city are the Miami Marlins based?
The obvious answer — Miami — is correct, but it's not what the team's lawyers are arguing in court.
According to a report from the Miami Herald, the Marlins are now claiming corporate citizenship in the British Virgin Islands as part of a legal effort that seems bizarre in the world of professional sports.
The decision stems from the lawsuit by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County to recover some of the profits former owner Jeffrey Loria made during the $1.2 billion sale of the team to a group led by Derek Jeter last year.
A Miami-Dade judge has already sided with the city and county in a preliminary ruling, but if the Marlins are successful in their argument, that ruling could be stripped as a federal judge takes over the case.
The Marlins claim to BVI citizenship feels thin, even to the casual observer. Lawyers argued that at least one of the corporations that own Marlins Teamco — the company set up to purchase the franchise last year — is based in the Caribbean, and thus the dispute should be treated as an international legal matter.
Per the Miami Herald:
"One of the members of Marlins Teamco is a corporation incorporated in the British Virgin Islands with its principal place of business in the British Virgin Islands," the Marlins wrote in the court filing last month. "Accordingly, Marlins Teamco is a citizen of the British Virgin Islands" under federal law governing treaties.
Lawyers for the county were quick to dismiss the argument, saying "This is the most local of disputes, involving a locally-negotiated contract made between local parties under local law and requiring local performance." They also referred to the team as the "Jeter Marlins" throughout their response, and arguing that if even one member of the ownership group is a U.S. citizen than the team itself is as well.
Derek Jeter's takeover of the Miami Marlins was one of the biggest stories of the MLB offseason. After putting together an ownership group to purchase the team, Jeter's first move as the new face of the franchise was to gut the roster of its most prominent assets for what he saw as a long-term plan of success.
Outside of their troubles in the courtroom, the Marlins are struggling on the baseball diamond as well, getting off to a 3-7 start and playing in front of a mostly empty stadium.