Things are starting to heat up in the St. Louis lawsuit against the Rams and the NFL over the relocation of the team to Los Angeles.
Attorneys for the defendants filed three motions Monday in St. Louis Circuit Court, the most interesting of which was a motion to have the case decided through arbitration rather than by a St. Louis jury in the courtroom of Judge Christopher McGraugh.
In theory, avoiding a jury trial might improve the Rams’ and the NFL’s chances of winning the case. Additionally, an arbitration process could mean the Rams and the NFL bypass the discovery process and avoid answering questions about the case.
The defendants previously filed a motion (on June 7) to stay the discovery process, a motion that has yet to be ruled on by McGraugh.
The two other motions filed Monday seek to:
• Dismiss the case for failure to state a claim.
• Dismiss certain defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The latter motion seeks to dismiss all of the other NFL teams and their owners from the case besides the Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs would be included because they are based in Missouri, as the Rams were.
The city, county, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority filed suit in April against the NFL and all 32 teams, seeking damages and restitution of profits.
The suit claims the Rams and the NFL through its member teams violated the standards and obligations governing team relocations, thus breaching their contractual duties owed the plaintiffs.
The suit claims the Rams and the NFL made intentionally false and misleading statements, unjustly enriched themselves and interfered with business expectations.
The NFL claims there is no basis for litigation, saying the relocation process was honest and fair at all times.
In the motion seeking arbitration, attorneys for owner Stan Kroenke and the Rams say that each of the five counts in the lawsuit should be subject to arbitration under terms of the stadium lease and relocation agreement made in 1995 when the Rams moved to St. Louis from Anaheim, Calif.
But it’s debatable if the terms of the stadium lease are applicable with respect to arbitration since the Rams terminated the lease before their successful attempt to relocate.
There is no set timetable on when McGraugh will make a decision on the arbitration motion, but it’s expected to take weeks.
The 31-page arbitration motion was filed by the St. Louis law firm of Haar & Woods and the Chicago firm of Kirkland and Ellis, representing the Rams and Kroenke.