Saint-Louis has a tiger by the tail. And they twist it.
Via Daniel Wallach, plaintiffs in the Rams relocation litigation have filed a request for sanction against four specific owners: Clark Hunt of the Chiefs, Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, John Mara of the Giants and Robert Kraft of the Patriots.
The motion seeks the striking out of the pleadings and other penalties. In other words, the plaintiffs want a default judgment.
Without seeing the documents (surely they will surface soon), it is safe to assume that this resulted from an actual or perceived failure by these owners to comply with the discovery process. The most obvious breach dates back to the July order to provide personal financial information in anticipation of a possible award of punitive damages.
Although the trial court has already imposed a fine of $ 1,000 per day for failing to produce financial data, other penalties are available, such as a motion to strike the pleadings and essentially to convert the eventual trial into an exercise to assess the damages suffered by the Saint-Louis plaintiffs.
Strangely enough, this could be the strategy the NFL has chosen to employ. If the plaintiffs want an exorbitant amount in settlement in part due to the fact that a public hearing will consist of several landlords receiving treatment from Colonel Nathan Jessup before inevitably yelling “you are right, I did it!” The owners could simply dive into the question of liability, making the lawsuit only on damages and, in turn, making their testimony at the lawsuit irrelevant and moot.
Then, after the final judgment is handed down by the lower court, the NFL may try to block the case for months, or even years, through different levels of appeal. Or, if the final verdict is, say, $ 100 million, Rams owner Stan Kroenke can write the check and they can all move on. (Kroenke has reportedly agreed to indemnify its business partners from this litigation.)
It would be an unconventional approach, of course. But it does give homeowners a way to protect their financial information and avoid testifying. If NFL lawyers think they can aggressively and successfully push back calculations of financial harm stemming from the Rams moving from St. Louis to LA twenty years after moving from LA to St. Louis, perhaps the best move at this point is to ask the question of liability, and fight over the question of damages.
Whatever the motivation and the real strategy, this business just keeps getting bigger. Make even more blatant the failure of some major national media to give it much attention.