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The fan who originally gloved and then fought to keep Barry Bonds’ 73rd home run baseball may still owe his former attorney more than what the ball fetched at auction, a California appeal court ruled May 24. In an unpublished opinion, the 1st District Court of Appeal left untouched a preliminary injunction obtained by Alex Popov’s former lawyer, Martin Triano, that prevented Popov from spending the ball’s proceeds until Popov paid Triano a $473,530 legal bill. Triano’s attorney, Jonathan Arons, said he was not surprised with the court’s opinion because of comments made from the bench during oral arguments. “[The justices] were not sympathetic at all,” Arons said. “We just wish they had gone a little bit further and ruled on the issue of the contract, but we understand why they didn’t.” Both Triano and Popov have different accounts of the legal contract Popov signed when he hired Triano as his attorney in 2001, Justice Stuart Pollak wrote in a seven-page opinion in Triano v. Popov, A106857. “The injunction reasonably protects the status quo and permits resolution of these factual and legal issues in an orderly manner,” Pollak wrote. Justices William McGuiness and Carol Corrigan concurred. Popov claimed he caught Bonds’ ball, but was stripped of it amid a crush of fans that included Patrick Hayashi, who emerged from the fracas with the collectors’ item. Three years ago, in Popov v. Hayashi, 400545, a San Francisco Superior Court judge decided Popov and Hayashi both had rights to the ball and ordered it to be sold. It went for $450,000 at an auction — $23,000 less than Popov’s legal bill. It’s not the only reason why Triano may have trouble collecting. The trial record “indicates that Popov is insolvent,” Pollak wrote. Popov’s attorney, Joel Belway of San Francisco, declined comment. Triano is continuing to seek legal fees from Popov in a related suit now in arbitration. A status conference in the case, Triano v. Popov, 3503194, is scheduled for next week in superior court. In 2003, Triano obtained a temporary restraining order requiring Popov to put his share of proceeds from the ball in an interest-bearing account until the fee dispute was resolved. Last year, Popov moved to dissolve the preliminary injunction on the grounds that his 2001 agreement with Triano was void because Triano never gave him a copy after it was executed.

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