Marlins claim British Virgin Islands citizenship to avoid going to court in Miami

Are you ready for the saga of the Derek Jeter-owned Miami Marlins to get even more ridiculous? Because it’s about to.

According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins are trying to avoid going to court in Miami by claiming that their team should be considered a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands. The basis for this is a little convoluted. Marlins Teamco is a corporation that was formed by Jeter and Marlins majority owner Bruce Sherman specifically to buy the Marlins. One of the corporations that owns a minority stake in Marlins Teamco is based in the British Virgin Islands.

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The Marlins aren’t doing this to change their name to the British Virgin Island Marlins. This is all in response to a profit-sharing lawsuit that was filed earlier this year by Miami-Dade County. As part of a 2009 agreement, the Jeffrey Loria-owned Marlins agreed that if the team was sold within 10 years, the county would get 5% of the profits from that sale. The team, which was bought by Loria for $152 million, was sold in 2017 to the Jeter/Sherman majority group for $1.2 billion. However, Loria claimed that he somehow lost $140 million from the sale, so neither he nor the Marlins owed the county any profits. The county obviously sued since that’s insane, and both Loria and the Marlins (which includes their current ownership) are named in the suit.

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MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 03: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter speak with members of the media at Marlins Park on October 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 03: Principal owner Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter speak with members of the media at Marlins Park on October 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 14: In this handout photo provided by One Voice: Somos Live!, Giselle Blondet, Chayanne and Derek Jeter speak onstage at One Voice: Somos Live! A Concert For Disaster Relief at Marlins Park on October 14, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rick Diamond/One Voice: Somos Live!/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Derek Jeter speaks onstage for Derek Jeter On Finding Professional Fulfillment After The Dream Career Featuring Derek Jeter, Founder, The Players' Tribune, And Jeff Levick, CEO, The Players' Tribune during Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Fast Company)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 26: Derek Jeter attends Derek Jeter On Finding Professional Fulfillment After The Dream Career Featuring Derek Jeter, Founder, The Players' Tribune, And Jeff Levick, CEO, The Players' Tribune during Fast Company Innovation Festival at 92nd Street Y on October 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Fast Company)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 03: Derek Jeter attends an NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Arena on December 3, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christopher Trotman/Getty Images)
Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter speaks during a town hall meeting at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter with fans after a town hall meeting at Marlins Park in Miami on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter talks with the media during a press conference on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is interviewed by Marjory Stoneman Douglas baseball team players Ricky Shimko, left, and Connor Brian before the start of a spring training baseball game against St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 in Jupiter, Fla. The Marlins honored Stoneman Douglas shooting victims with special hats, T-shirts, and patches. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter talks with Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill during the spring training baseball workouts for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, middle, chats with manager Don Mattingly and coach Perry Hill, right, during a team stretch/workout a day before the season opener, at Marlins Park in Miami on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter (left) speaks with Manager Don Mattingly during the Marlins' home opener game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Little Havana, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 02: Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter looks on during the game between the Miami Marlins and the Boston Red Sox at Marlins Park on April 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Derek Jeter
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 02: Former New York Yankee Jorge Posada visits with CEO of the Miami Marlins Derek Jeter during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Marlins Park on April 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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According to the Herald, the tactic of claiming international citizenship has been done specifically to avoid a Miami-Dade judge who has already ruled against Loria and the franchise in a preliminary hearing. By claiming international citizenship, the case would be stripped from that judge (and from county court altogether) and would instead be heard by a federal judge.

If this seems ridiculous or laughable (especially since the Marlins don’t claim exemption from any other US laws and the dispute is entirely located in Miami-Dade County), you’re not the only one who thinks that. The lawyers for the county were less than impressed with the Marlins’ creative attempt to avoid going to court in Miami.

If the Marlins have gotten tired of trading away talented players, claiming British Virgin Islands citizenship is an exciting new way for them to alienate even more fans. Though that might not be possible, since only about 7,000 fans came to Monday’s Marlins game. 

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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