Rams

St. Louis Suing Nfl Over Rams’ Relocation

The city, the county and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are suing the National Football League over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago.

The 52-page suit filed Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court lists the National Football League and all 32 NFL clubs as defendants and seeks damages and restitution of profits.

“The Rams, the NFL, through its member teams, and the owners have violated the obligations and standards governing team relocations” because the Rams failed to meet league relocation rules, the suit claims. As such, the league has breached its contractual duties owed the plaintiffs, the suit says.

The Rams and the NFL made intentionally false statements, unjustly enriched themselves, the plaintiffs say, and interfered with business expectations.

The suit claims St. Louis has lost an estimated $1.85 million to $3.5 million a year in amusement and ticket tax revenue with the departure of the Rams. It says the city also has lost about $7.5 million in property tax and $1.4 million in sales tax revenue, plus “millions” in earning taxes.

Although it doesn’t provide dollar amounts for St Louis County, the suit says the county has lost out on hotel tax, property tax, and sales tax revenue because of the departure of the Rams.

The suit contains five counts, or causes for action:

• Breach of contract (against all defendants).

• Unjust enrichment (against all defendants).

• Fraudulent misrepresentation (against the Rams and team owner Stan Kroenke).

• Fraudulent misrepresentation (against all defendants).

• Tortious interference with business expectancy (against all defendants except the Rams). This last count basically alleges that the NFL and the other 31 teams “intentionally interfered” with the business relationship between the St. Louis plaintiffs and the Rams by approving the relocation.

The league’s relocation rules were established in 1984 in response to a court recommendation to the NFL to avoid antitrust liability. The rules call on teams to work diligently and in good faith to remain in their home community, stating that teams cannot relocate unless the relocation policy is satisfied.

The suit lists three pages of examples in which the Rams “made false statements regarding the team’s intent to engage in good faith negotiations.”

Included is part of a 2010 Post-Dispatch interview with Kroenke in which he said: “I’m going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis. I’ve always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. . . . People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted.”

Another example came in 2014 from Rams executive Kevin Demoff after Kroenke bought land in Inglewood, Calif., that became part of the eventual site of the LA Rams’ proposed stadium: “I promise you, Stan is looking at lots of pieces of land around the world right now and none of them are for football stadiums.”

The suit details work the plaintiffs did, “in reliance” on such statements on St. Louis’ riverfront stadium project on the north side of downtown. Included was the assembly of land for the stadium site, hiring of architects, consultants and lawyers.

Those costs totaled more than $16 million after the NFL approved the Rams’ relocation on Jan. 12, 2016, according to Post-Dispatch reports.

Further, the suit cites a Demoff interview given to Los Angeles media during which he said he “always dreamed that he could be part of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles” and said Kroenke told him in the summer of 2013 that he had found “an unbelievable site” for a football stadium in the Los Angeles area. Namely, the Inglewood site.

The suit was filed Wednesday by the Clayton law firm of Blitz, Bardgett and Deutsch and has been in the works for about two years. Even before the relocation vote, information was being gathered for a potential suit. Attorney Bob Blitz was part of the effort to build the north riverfront stadium and keep the Rams in St. Louis.

After 21 seasons with the Rams in St. Louis, Kroenke received approval from the league to return the team to southern California, using a first-tier provision in the stadium lease at the former Edward Jones Dome as his escape clause. The clause required the state of Missouri, city of St. Louis and St. Louis County to renovate the Dome — at a cost of about $700 million — up to the league’s “first tier,” or top eight stadia. Local officials declined, and, as prescribed in the lease, the Rams went year-to-year at the Dome.

The team played its first season back in Los Angeles in 2016 at Memorial Coliseum, finishing with a 4-12 record. The new Inglewood stadium, scheduled to cost $2.6 billion, is scheduled to open in 2019.

Wednesday’s suit is just the latest in a series of legal actions taken by various parties in St. Louis against the Rams since relocation was approved.

Three separate lawsuits regarding PSLs, or personal seat licenses, have been consolidated into one in which fans are seeking either refunds on PSL deposits or the right to buy season tickets in Los Angeles.

Another suit stems from fans claims the Rams violated the Merchandise Practices Act by selling tickets and team merchandise while planning a move to a new market.

And in yet another, the Regional Convention and Sports Authority seeks to block the Rams from purchasing the former practice facility in Earth City — once known as Rams Park — for $1 in 2024, as set forth in the team’s original stadium lease.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/football/professional/st-louis-suing-nfl-over-rams-relocation/article_501e2349-c9c9-5a70-9743-2583f89948d9.html

15 Comments

  1. Boffo97

    Oh, there's been all sorts of hypocrisy tied up with St. Louis' behavior regarding the Rams.

    When they moved there in the first place, Jay Nixon (who was attorney general when they came and governor when they left) was saying the team absolutely had the right to move and was threatening an antitrust suit on the Rams behalf if not allowed. I can't find the exact quote, but it's a pretty different tone than what we heard in 2015.

    Missouri Responds to NFL : Pro football: Lawsuit threatened if Ram move isn't approved.
    March 14, 1995|From Associated Press

    PHOENIX — From across the continent, pressure began mounting Monday on the NFL owners to approve the Rams' move to St. Louis.

    Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said if the owners say no, he would file an antitrust lawsuit by the end of the month. He said the suit would seek a temporary restraining order against the NFL "to stop any unlawful restraint of trade."

    "I don't use my antitrust authority unless I feel very strongly about it," Nixon said in a phone interview from St. Louis.

    Nixon sent NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue a fax and overnight letter Monday announcing his intentions.

    "They still have the power to clear themselves of the problem by allowing this transfer to go through," Nixon said. "I thought it was important to tell the commissioner we had made the decision that we had the authority and desire to sue them."

    Nixon called the threat of a suit a "preemptive warning" against the "NFL cartel."

    "We would not be out there trying to seek huge amounts of damages," Nixon said. "We will, however, enforce the law."

    The desired effect was to scare the league into approving the transfer. San Francisco 49er President Carmen Policy said it might backfire. "It might influence people to vote against the move," Policy said. "My emotional response is negative. I don't think that's the proper way to address an issue."

  2. Boffo97

    Now if anything done by anyone other than St. Louis was wrong, it'd be this:

    I remember hearing that friends of Dean Spanos (including Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Texans owner Bob McNair) were assuring the Task Force at the time that if they could get their proposal together, then the Rams would have to stay. If true (and provable), that strikes me as fraud, and St. Louis can feel free to sue those guys for every penny they can as far as I'm concerned.

    Still St. Louis' fault though.

    That's not enough for a fraud claim.

  3. Now if anything done by anyone other than St. Louis was wrong, it'd be this:

    I remember hearing that friends of Dean Spanos (including Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Texans owner Bob McNair) were assuring the Task Force at the time that if they could get their proposal together, then the Rams would have to stay. If true (and provable), that strikes me as fraud, and St. Louis can feel free to sue those guys for every penny they can as far as I'm concerned.

    Still St. Louis' fault though.

  4. Hopefully it will be a pretty open and shut case just with the fact that they had St. Louis' permission to move due to the First Tier Promise breach. If I'm a Rams lawyer, I file a motion to dismiss on that alone.

    The notion that the Rams could spend over a decade negotiating that (and even waiving the first First Tier Check in 2005), St. Louis could decide to breach the promise, but the Rams still had to negotiate with the insulting Riverfront deal rather than what was promised in order to fulfill a "good faith negotiation" requirement is ludicrous.

    The only thing I've seen so far (admittedly, I didn't read through the PDF) with any validity is Demoff denying that the Hollywood Park purchase was for a stadium in 2014. That was obviously a lie since it came after St. Louis decided not to honor the results of the arbitration, but no one with any common sense should have heard that and thought "Wow! The Rams are going to stay for sure no matter how crappy the stadium we partially offer is!"

    St. Louis agreed to what the price of keeping the Rams was going to be. They decided not to pay it. Case closed.

  5. Boffo97

    Oh, there's been all sorts of hypocrisy tied up with St. Louis' behavior regarding the Rams.

    When they moved there in the first place, Jay Nixon (who was attorney general when they came and governor when they left) was saying the team absolutely had the right to move and was threatening an antitrust suit on the Rams behalf if not allowed. I can't find the exact quote, but it's a pretty different tone than what we heard in 2015.

    Another great point! If I'm the Rams/NFL lawyers that's one of the first things I bring up.

  6. Oh, there's been all sorts of hypocrisy tied up with St. Louis' behavior regarding the Rams.

    When they moved there in the first place, Jay Nixon (who was attorney general when they came and governor when they left) was saying the team absolutely had the right to move and was threatening an antitrust suit on the Rams behalf if not allowed. I can't find the exact quote, but it's a pretty different tone than what we heard in 2015.

  7. So they fail to live up to their end of the lease which legally allowed the Rams out of it and now they want to sue the Rams and the NFL. My favorite part is they Sid during the stadium proposal that the Dome would be more profitable with the Rams out of it. Seems that was another lie in the process.

  8. Now, if this were a case where the lease had expired, and St. Louis wanted to hammer out a new lease, THEN they would have a point here. Even though the Riverfront Stadium offer was pretty laughable, you could call it at least a beginning point in negotiations.

    But the fact that St. Louis chose not to keep the First Tier Promise, knowing that the alternative was that the team had permission to leave pretty much shuts down any argument they might have. In fact, the Rams specifically referred to the usage of the Riverfront proposal to try to stop the Rams from leaving despite having said permission as a "further breach of the lease" in their relocation proposal. (I've had people argue with me about this, but given that just before this, the Rams were discussing the failure to keep the First Tier Promise, that that was the prior breach that a "further breach" implies.)

  9. PhxRam

    The good news is that I think the PD abolished their forums. I was looking forward to watching the circus over there.

    Probably because it had long since reached the point where it was making the paper look bad if not the entire city of St. Louis. That place was a cesspool long before relocation became a realistic possibility, typically about whoever the Rams QB was at the time.

  10. Boffo97

    Completely frivolous lawsuit designed to further the falsehood that St. Louis isn't 100% at fault for the move. Wasting more taxpayer money, but we're well past that point already.

    Again, it comes down to this: If you promise that the stadium will be top tier for 30 years or the Rams can leave, and you don't even TRY to keep the stadium top tier for 30 years, well… the Rams are going to leave.

    By bringing up the relocation guidelines, St. Louis is arguing (yet again) that the Rams didn't make good faith negotiations with them. But they did. For over a decade, the Rams tried to get St. Louis to keep their promise. St. Louis was the one that ended those negotiations. No sane judge (at least outside St. Louis, where there don't seem to be sane judges) is going to agree with the contention that a good faith negotiation requirement means you have to deal with a proposal where you pay for approximately 70% of a stadium that will be bottom tier opening day, when the promise was that you pay precisely $0 for a top tier stadium.

    Very few in St. Louis seem mentally equipped to handle the idea that St. Louis was wrong at all. Hopefully, once this one is quickly dismissed, it will be time to let it go. Wish the majority in St. Louis could stop being sheep though and see the truth.

    The good news is that I think the PD abolished their forums. I was looking forward to watching the circus over there.

  11. Completely frivolous lawsuit designed to further the falsehood that St. Louis isn't 100% at fault for the move. Wasting more taxpayer money, but we're well past that point already.

    Again, it comes down to this: If you promise that the stadium will be top tier for 30 years or the Rams can leave, and you don't even TRY to keep the stadium top tier for 30 years, well… the Rams are going to leave.

    By bringing up the relocation guidelines, St. Louis is arguing (yet again) that the Rams didn't make good faith negotiations with them. But they did. For over a decade, the Rams tried to get St. Louis to keep their promise. St. Louis was the one that ended those negotiations. No sane judge (at least outside St. Louis, where there don't seem to be sane judges) is going to agree with the contention that a good faith negotiation requirement means you have to deal with a proposal where you pay for approximately 70% of a stadium that will be bottom tier opening day, when the promise was that you pay precisely $0 for a top tier stadium.

    Very few in St. Louis seem mentally equipped to handle the idea that St. Louis was wrong at all. Hopefully, once this one is quickly dismissed, it will be time to let it go. Wish the majority in St. Louis could stop being sheep though and see the truth.

  12. Here's hoping new lawsuit dents Rams and NFL

    Maybe they won't get away with it after all.

    Perhaps some sort of justice will be served.

    That's my immediate reaction to the news that the city, the county and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority are suing the National Football League over the Rams' relocation rip-job.

    This isn't a reactionary lawsuit. Unlike this column, it includes no cheap shots, no bitter overtones. The lawsuit has been in the works for two years. The 52-page whopper filed Wednesday in St. Louis Circuit Court has evidence dating back to 2010.

    It seems solid. Read it for yourself.

    What you will find is a clinical description of how the Rams repeatedly made a mockery of the NFL's relocation guidelines while Jerry Jones helped sell the rest of the league's owners on an exploitation that would result in a financial windfall.

    You remember the relocation guidelines. They were the list of rules the NFL swore had to be met when it was pretending St. Louis stood a chance of presenting a stadium plan that settled the team's beef with a regrettable lease that never should have been signed. In the beginning, NFL suit Eric Grubman spoke of these rules like they were chiseled into stone. But as time went on, Grubman backpedaled and the rules softened into suggestions, country club politics at its worst. An effort to keep the team that Houston Texans owner Bob McNair once described to the Houston Chronicle as "pretty close, in my opinion, to being an attractive proposal" was lumped in with the lackluster efforts of Oakland and San Diego and canned. It was sealed with a secret ballot cast behind closed doors. And if it's up to the NFL, that would have been the end of it.

    What was never explained was how the Rams and the owners who voted to approve their move successfully dodged rules that were created because a court suggested the rules needed to exist to keep this exact thing from happening.

    This lawsuit picks at that scab.

    It wants an answer.

    Remember Kroenke saying "I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis?" Remember Kevin Demoff, Kroenke's talking head, saying "he (Kroenke) didn't lead the charge to bring the Rams back to St. Louis to lead the charge out of St. Louis." Remember when Demoff told fans there was a "one-in-million chance" the team would move?

    These are just a few of the money lines featured in the lengthy list of statements the plaintiffs claim prove the team did not engage in good-faith negotiations with St. Louis. I'm calling it Demoff's Greatest Hits for short.

    The lies that ruined Demoff's credibility always looked reptilian.

    But could they become legally damning?

    Too early to tell.

    The NFL is flush with cash and qualified counsel. Kroenke has more big wins in court than his teams do on the field.

    Sure, it's a long shot.

    But good for the plaintiffs for sticking up for themselves.

    If this lawsuit gets any bit of money back from the league, like the more than $16 million spent on the effort to keep the Rams, it wins.

    If it forces the NFL to stop making up rules as it goes along, it wins.

    If it stops other cities from working in vain to keep a team, it wins.

    Even if fails, it should become a thorn in the side of the professional liar, his puppet master and their accomplices.

    Hopefully it becomes that and more.

    BenFred: Here's hoping new lawsuit dents Rams and NFL

  13. Here is the PDF for those interested

    [pdf]http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/stltoday.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/18/b18dd730-f51b-5870-9bb4-09b80c74862c/58ee5c62254f1.pdf.pdf[/pdf]

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