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The Florida Marlins have received requests for World Series rings from 12 of the 14 former limited partners in the Montreal Expos who launched legal action against majority owner Jeffrey Loria. That and this report from The Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair

It is tradition for championship teams to strike commemorative rings to be given to owners, players and front-office executives, and in the case of the Marlins, the rings, which will be formally presented on April 10 before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, were designed by Loria. Marlins president David Samson sent a fax over the holidays to the limited partners saying they had until Jan. 31 to submit requests for rings.

 

"Following the World Series, every partner was sent a letter asking if they wanted a ring, and whether or not people responded to that letter, I have no idea," said Jeffrey Kessler, the lawyer representing the former limited partners who are scheduled to have an arbitrator hear their dispute against Loria on May 17.

 

Kessler would not comment on whether any of the limited partners had cleared their requests with him, citing lawyer-client confidentiality. But he said there were no legal reasons preventing the limited partners from accepting the offer.

 

According to sources, representatives of only two of the limited partners -- BMO Nesbitt Burns and the F?d?ration des Caisses Desjardins du Qu?bec -- did not respond to the fax sent by Samson.

 

"There's a story behind it that I don't want to get into," said Mark Routtenberg, a limited partner who is the head of Freemark Holdings Inc. "I don't feel as if I was part of it [the World Series championship.] If anything, it [a ring] might be a conversation piece, but there wouldn't be any emotional attachment to it. When I owned the Hull Olympiques, we won a Memorial Cup and that ring has significance because we put a lot of work into it."

 

The fax was sent to individuals who had taken an active role in board meetings while the partnership ran the Expos and are now technically limited partners in the Marlins. The rings will not be presented during the Marlins' first series of the year, against the Expos.

 

Loria and highly ranked baseball officials were hit in 2002 with a 45-page complaint filed by his former limited partners in the Expos alleging a conspiracy to eliminate the franchise. The 14 businesses now hold about 6 per cent of the Marlins as the result of a franchise swap that saw Major League Baseball purchase the Expos from Loria. He then purchased the Marlins from John Henry, who had purchased the Boston Red Sox. A U.S. Federal Court judge ordered a stay of the limited partners' complaint in November of 2002 and ordered Loria and his former limited partners to settle the matter in arbitration.

 

The other members of the limited partnership and plaintiffs in the action against Loria are BCE Inc. (the principal subsidiary of Bell Canada and an owner of The Globe and Mail's parent company, Bell Globemedia); Cascades Inc.; Esarbee Investments Ltd. (led by Stephen Bronfman); Fairmont Hotel & Resorts Inc.; Fonds de solidarit? des travailleurs du Qu?bec ; Loblaws Inc.; M& S Sports Inc. (a holding company associated with McClelland & Stewart Ltd.); Provigo Inc.; Telemedia Communications, Inc.; and two numbered companies -- an affiliate of Jean Coutu Pharmacy and an affiliate of retailer San Francisco Boutiques. That and this report from The Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair

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