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 percent 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. Loria, however, 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.

Derek Jeter and the rest of the Marlins ownership are claiming the team has corporate citizenship in the British Virgin Islands. (AP Photo)
Derek Jeter and the rest of the Marlins ownership are claiming the team has corporate citizenship in the British Virgin Islands. (AP Photo)

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 U.S. 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 or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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