ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Rams fans could get a 25% refund on years of tickets and merchandise through a settlement of a class action lawsuit that claimed the team misled fans about its intention to stay in St. Louis.
The proposed settlement would cover purchases from April 21, 2010, to Jan. 4, 2016, and could be worth up to $25 million, legal filings say. Up to $7 million will go to plaintiffs’ lawyers for fees and costs. That money does not come from the $25 million. Each of the former fans who filed the original suit gets $5,000.
“It’s a great deal,” said Steve Stolze, lead counsel in the case, who said that the deal will return a “significant portion” of fans’ money. “If it provides some closure, that’s great, too,” he said.
Preliminary approval of the settlement was granted Monday by St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Boyer.
That $25 million represents 25% of the Rams’ estimates of ticket and merchandise sales during that period, said Stolze.
Boyer had approved the suit as a class action in February. Filed in 2016 by St. Louis residents James Pudlowski, Louis C. Cross III, Gail Henry and Steve Henry, it claimed the Rams had purposefully misled fans. Those fans would not have bought the tickets or merchandise, or would have paid less, had they known the Rams were planning their 2016 move, the suit says. The Rams denied wrongdoing and continued to do so in the settlement.
Stolze said the Rams argued that “there was no damage” to fans from the team’s move. He said they argued that fans, “bought the tickets and used the tickets. Why should they get any money back?” They made the same argument about the merchandise, he said.
Lawyers for the Rams couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.
Fans, or former fans, don’t have to do anything now. Stolze said that a website will be set up in 30 days, with instructions on how to get refunds. The Rams have data on tickets and merchandise purchased from them, including address and email information for buyers. Class members will get an email or postcard with a PIN number that they can give to the claims administrator to find out how much they’re due, Stolze said. “We made it as easy as we could for the class,” he said. Because of the records, Stolze also expected the claims rate to be higher than normal.
Fans who purchased from other retailers will need a receipt. The settlement only covers Missouri residents, not businesses, because of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the law under which the suit was filed.
Any potential class members will now have 75 days to opt out or object.
The suit has been cycled through state and federal court, and has been the subject of repeated appeals. The settlement followed a lengthy mediation process, court filings say.
In a separate suit sparked by the Rams move, personal seat license holders also sued for refunds for the value of years of unused licenses. That case has also settled, and Friday is the deadline to file for refunds. The Bruning Law Firm created a video to help PSL holders navigate the process, at bruninglegal.com or on the firm’s Facebook page. PSL holders can also call the Bruning firm at 314-735-8100, the law office of Rick Cornfeld at 314-241-5799, or Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli lawyer Kevin Green at 618-656-5150.
Under that settlement, announced last year, PSL holders will get 30% of the original purchase price, representing a refund of the nine years that remained on the 30-year license when the Rams left.
Lawyers said that settlement could be worth up to $24 million. Payments should begin in December, lawyers said at a hearing earlier this year.
In April, an arbitration panel ruled that the lease for their former Earth City training facility means the team can buy it in 2024 for $1.
A 2017 lawsuit is still pending. Filed against the NFL and its teams by the city, the county and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, it alleges the Rams violated the league relocation rules.