A federal judge in New Jersey has ordered "an in-person settlement conference" for May 17 in the dispute between Kobe Bryant and an auction house planning to sell the Los Angeles Lakers' teenage memorabilia late next month for the superstar's mother, Pamela.
If the mediation doesn't work, U.S. District Court Judge Rene Marie Bumb set an "expedited" June 17 trial with hopes of resolving the conflict before the scheduled June 27 public auction of nearly 1,000 items such as Kobe Bryant's high school basketball jerseys and trophies.
Lawyers for the NBA player filed a lawsuit against Goldin Auctions LLC in Orange County last week with the hopes of having the dispute handled on Bryant's home turf in California.
But inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford suggested on Monday that the proper venue for the case is New Jersey, a stance also held by Bump.
Bryant lives in an exclusive, Pacific Ocean-view, Newport Coast community.
Getting the parties to settle may not be easy. Based on the intensity of court filings crafted by both sides, the family squabble is bitter and there's the matter of physical distance too.
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Bryant's estranged parents--who insist their ultra-wealthy son gave them the memorabilia to sell at their whim--are in Thailand.