As the Rams relocation inches closer and closer to its commencement in January, the NFL is trying to minimize its total financial exposure.
Via Daniel Wallach, the NFL recently filed a motion to bifurcate the trial between the issues of liability and damages.
If the league is looking for a full bifurcation between liability and damages (compensatory and punitive), the league’s goal would be to not have evidence of financial losses and/or net worth of owners influence the jury’s decision on whether the league should lose on the issue of liability, based on the notion that the NFL’s owners are multi-billionaires and can easily afford to pay.
Defendants with significant resources constantly fear that dynamic when facing a jury. The Robin Hood mentality can infect the jury room, causing the jurors to decide to rob from the ultra-rich and give to the plaintiffs, who in this case are public entities not private citizens who would essentially be winning a personal Powerball lottery.
Missouri law provides for automatic bifurcation on the issue of punitive damages, on request of either party. At a minimum, the NFL would want to prevent the jury from receiving evidence regarding the net worth of the owners before the jury decides the threshold question of whether the NFL should win or lose. Hearing about the massive holdings of guys like Stan Kroenke could make a jury far more likely to find that Kroenke and his partners should pay through the nose.