In the biggest civil case you haven’t heard much about, the City of St. Louis (along with other public entities) and the NFL settled the litigation surrounding the Rams’ move to Los Angeles. The case settled for $790 million, but the NFL was reportedly readying itself to pay up to $1 billion and maybe even award St. Louis an expansion team – before a January scheduled jury trial.
This is a lot of money, so why pay this much? The optics (based on several media outlets) were pretty bad for the NFL – the NFL’s Commissioner said that if St. Louis could come up with a stadium package the Rams might stay, so the City worked hard to put together a big package. The problem is that the Commissioner knew that the Rams owner (Missouri billionaire Stan Kronke) had already purchased land in LA with the intent of moving the team there. And before the stadium was finished, the NFL agreed to move it’s media operations to that site among other inconvenient (for the NFL) facts. Then there’s the litigation itself. The case made it up the Missouri Supreme Court twice on procedural grounds (the NFL lost both), the judge in the case allowed discovery related to potential punitive damages (including financial information of Kronke, Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jimmy Johnson, and a few other NFL owners), and there was an upcoming contempt of court hearing to determine whether the NFL and its owners had produced enough information to satisfy the judge’s order on that issue. The NFL was facing a lot of financial penalties, but probably would suffer more from the publicity a trial would have garnered. And if the case had gone to trial, the loser would likely have appealed tying the case up for a several more years.
Kudos to mediator Jack Garvey for helping to get the case resolved.