The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that there is no reason for the court to halt its lawsuit against the Los Angeles Rams and owner Stan Kroenke.
Last week, the Rams and Kroenke asked Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to halt the case while they petition the Supreme Court to intervene. While the St. Louis Authority stated that the Rams and Kroenke may continue to pursue their supreme court petition, they argued that the court should not further delay the case. The St. Louis entities noted that this issue has been litigated for the past two-and-a-half years in Missouri courts.
In April 2017, the city and county of St. Louis joined the stadium authority in filing a lawsuit against the Rams, Kroenke, and the NFL. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants tricked them into spending millions of dollars in taxpayer money trying to keep the Rams in St. Louis. While the St. Louis entities had the impression that the team and league would take their efforts seriously under league relocation rules, they argue that the Rams and Kroenke never intended to stay in St. Louis, regardless of their efforts.
Meanwhile, the Rams and Kroenke have been arguing that this dispute belongs in private arbitration, not the federal courts. They point to the arbitration provision in both the 1995 deal that brought the team to St. Louis, as well as the team’s initial stadium lease.
The Missouri courts have rejected the Rams’ claims outright, with the Supreme Court of Missouri refusing to take the Rams’ appeal last month. This led the Rams and Kroenke to seek U.S. Supreme Court review.
The Rams are arguing that changes to the American Arbitration Association rules made after 1995 should apply to this dispute. Specifically, these rule changes allow arbitrators to decide “gateway” questions of whether claims must be arbitrated. The St. Louis entities countered by stating that Missouri law gives courts the authority to decide these gateway questions. Further, they argue that the arbitration provisions in the 1995 agreements are irrelevant to the issues in dispute. Rather, it is the NFL’s relocation policy that is central to this dispute.
This recent move by the Rams has been seen as a further tactic to stall the case. John Drobak, a professor at the Washington University School of Law, stated that the supreme court is unlikely to get involved in such a narrow, local case, even if they have the legal authority to do so.
This lawsuit is one of several filed against the Rams. In one lawsuit, the Rams and the purchasers of personal seat licenses reached a settlement that could reach $24 million and has the Rams paying $7.2 million in attorney’s fees. An additional lawsuit brought by St. Louis fans who purchased Rams tickets and merchandise also reached a settlement.