Attorneys for Abe Pollin, owner of the Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals and the general partner of Capital Centre, yesterday asked the Prince George's Circuit Court to dismiss Arnold Heft's suit against him and order Heft to pay all court costs and attorneys fees.
The motion to dismiss was made after Heft's attorney, Stephen Grafman, rested his case in the 11-day-old trial and after Pollin's attorneys said it might last another two weeks if they were to call all their prospective witnesses. After four hours of statements by Pollin's attorneys and a two-hour statement by Grafman yesterday countering their allegations, the lawyers for Pollin will have a chance for rebuttal today before Judge Albert T. Blackwell Jr. makes a ruling.
Heft, a limited partner in Capital Centre, contends that in June 1982 Pollin made certain secret, unilateral changes in agreements between the arena and the Bullets and Capitals that in effect returned $860,000 to the financially struggling teams. Heft asks that the agreements be rescinded and that an accounting of their effect be made.
During forceful, sometimes emotional statements, Pollin's attorneys contended Heft had two motives for filing suit: "unquenchable greed" and "an overwhelming compulsion for seeking out recognition." They noted that he had earned about $5 million from Capital Centre in 13 years, and one of the attorneys, John Miles, stated, "Arnold Heft was content to be fat, dumb and happy."
Miles continued, "When one traces the relationship . . . Abe has played the role of benefactor from the beginning. Arnold Heft has been an opportunist at every turn."
Noting the suit contends Pollin was guilty of "malicious, willful and wrongful conduct," Miles said of Grafman, "Clearly he was attempting to prove malice . . . (but) it is our position that testimony has shown no case of malice . . . Even if the adjustments were done to comply with the Capital Centre's bond agreement, there was no case of malice."
Grafman countered in a virtually nonstop statement that "I think we have amply demonstrated . . . that there has been real, live damage to the partnership (of Capital Centre) and to a partner, Arnold Heft." He maintained that testimony indicating that Pollin never contacted Heft regarding the adjustments was a breach of Pollin's fiduciary duty as general partner of the Centre.
"I'm waiting for the first scintilla of evidence that Mr. Heft was advised or consulted," Grafman said. Pollin's attorneys maintained yesterday that Pollin did not breach that duty.
Grafman repeated his charges made earlier in the trial that the adjustments were made because the teams were well above the $400,000 limit for debts established by the Centre's bond agreement. Pollin's attorneys have contended the adjustments were long overdue and that Pollin was within his power to make them.