(Editor's note: The author of this piece has practiced law in Los Angeles for the last 30 years. His opinion expressed here is one of his professional expertise.)
Yesterday, a St. Louis Circuit Court Judge decided the lawsuit against the Los Angeles Rams brought by the city of St. Louis, the county, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority would not be dismissed nor sent to arbitration.
The suit tracks a series of other lawsuits filed against the Rams once the team decided to relocate back to Los Angeles. It alleges that Rams and the NFL breached and negotiated in bad faith concerning keeping the team in St. Louis based on a violation of the NFL’s own relocation publicly announced policy. The plaintiffs allege that they were under the mistaken assumption that at the time they were negotiating with the Rams to keep them in St. Louis, both the Rams and NFL would abide by and enforce the terms and conditions of the league relocation policy, which they ultimately did not.
Judge Christopher McGraugh ruled against the NFL and Rams and despite their opposition that there were sufficient allegations to move forward and denied the motions to dismiss.
What does this mean?
The Rams aren’t going back to St. Louis regardless of the merits of the claims made so Angelenos can rest comfortably about that.
Now that the lawsuit may move forward, the city of St. Louis and its other co-plaintiffs can now move forward with the discovery phase—gathering their evidence, including documentary internal memorandums, e-mails, letters, etc. proving their case that the NFL’s relocation policy was a sham as it was applied to them.
Whether this is enough to prove their case is still yet to be decided, but it will be interesting to see if behind closed doors, locked away by the NFL vault, whether The NFL really wanted to try to keep the Rams in St. Louis as much as their stated relocation policy provides, or whether the meetings with fans in St. Louis, the negotiations to keep the team in St. Louis, etc. were just a sideshow and a sham.
No matter what the ultimate outcome is, much can be learned for the future of relocation by the league from its ongoing battle with St. Louis. That more than anything might be the biggest result in the case overall.