It’s a drop in the bucket for Rams owner Stan Kroenke, but billionaires don’t become billionaires (or stay billionaires) by batting an eye at an eight-figure jury verdict.
But Kroenke ultimately may decide not to fight former 49ers running back Reggie Bush’s $12.5 million verdict for an ACL tear suffered when the Rams failed to rectify the obvious hazard arising from a slippery concrete ring around the perimeter of the field at the Edward Jones Dome.
Did Bush actually suffer nearly $5 million in compensatory losses for an injury that has become commonplace for NFL players? Are $7.5 million in punitive damages justified under Missouri law, or was the extra payment a belated “eff you” to the team that left St. Louis for Los Angeles? With the Missouri courts deciding the issue, it may not matter; the Rams are long gone, and even though the $12.5 million total verdict won’t help any citizens of Missouri, the fact that it hurts the Rams will make people feel better about the team that relocated to California. And it could make it less likely that the Rams will prevail at the next level.
The Rams obviously have appeal rights. But they’ll need to decide whether it makes sense to throw good money after bad, once their lawyers engage in a frank, objective assessment of whether the team has a snowball’s chance in La Brea of winning an appeal. Kroenke could end up spending another $100,000 or more in appellate legal fees to delay the inevitable.
Maybe the sensible (and right) thing to do would be to not fight it. The Rams carelessly allowed an open and obvious hazard to exist in a stadium the team would soon flee, consciously accepting the risk of a Rams player or a player from another team suffering an injury. The Rams rolled the dice, it came up craps (the bad kind), and if Kroenke cares at all about NFL players (those on his team or any other team), he’d write the check and move on.
Then again, if Kroenke truly cares at all about NFL platers (those on his team or any other team), he would have offered a reasonable settlement amount and avoided what any lawyer worth his or her salt could have spotted coming a mile away — a bell-ringing verdict that serves as a middle finger to Kroenke and company.
Then again, if Kroenke truly cares at all about NFL platers (those on his team or any other team), he would have rectified the hazard before Bush tore up his knee, not after.
At this point, the man building a $5 billion complex in Inglewood probably should regard the $12.5 million as a cost of doing business, and move on.