Thursday’s hearing regarding the pending litigation between St. Louis and the NFL over the relocation of the Rams featured some nuts-and-bolts squabbling over the litigation process. It also included some big-picture discussions regarding the monetary award the local governments hope to secure.
Via Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com, the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority want more than one billion dollars. Thursday’s hearing included discussion regarding those exorbitant demands.
“The plaintiffs are seeking a billion dollars in damages or more,” NFL attorney Gerard Carmody said during the hearing, via Kaplan. An unnamed source separately told Kaplan that “it’s fair to describe the figures as in the billions.”
Although the St. Louis plaintiffs seek reimbursement for wasted expenses arising from allegedly futile efforts to keep the Rams in St. Louis, the case apparently also will attempt to recover a slice of the enhanced value of the team resulting from a relocation that the plaintiffs believe happened in defiance of the NFL’s applicable rules.
“Our damages relate to the violation of the relocation policy,” lawyer Jim Bennett said during the hearing, via Kaplan. “The move, the relocation fee, the minimum increase in value to Mr. Kroenke, the minimum increase in value to all the other teams or defendants, the minimum increase in value to Mr. Kroenke’s real estate empire, expenses that we incur based on their representations that they might actually think about the new stadium.”
It seems like an aggressive position, to be sure. But the St. Louis plaintiffs have managed to fend off the efforts of the NFL to suck the case out of the civil justice system and into the business-friendly alternative method of arbitration. As Marc Ganis, a consultant with very close ties to the NFL, told Kaplan, “home cooking” has helped the St. Louis case survive. Of course it has; “home cooking” is a longstanding reality of the broader justice system.
But the NFL prides itself on finding ways to drop a chunk of rancid meat into home-cooked lawsuit stew. It may not happen at the trial-court level. It may happen at the appellate level. It may eventually happen through a Hail Mary pass to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Regardless, the St. Louis plaintiffs currently have a multi-billion-dollar tiger by the tail. Whether and to what extent they can hold on will be interesting to watch.