Rams Hit Hard Over Franchise Move to Los Angeles
Last September, a federal judge in St. Louis ruled that the Rams must refund deposits to some fans that purchased personal seat licenses (PSL) during the franchise’s two decades in the city and offer others the opportunity to buy season tickets to games in Los Angeles. That decision by U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. came in three lawsuits, which were later consolidated into one case. At issue were about 46,000 PSLs to buy season tickets in St. Louis first sold by FANS Inc., the Rams’ ticketing agent. Two of the lawsuits maintained that the personal seat license contracts remain valid and demanded the right to purchase tickets to games in L.A. That decision by Judge Limbaugh Jr. found those claims to be without merit. However, the third lawsuit, filed by St. Louis resident Ronald McAllister, argued the team’s move invalidated the contracts and asked for refunds.
Although the Judge initially ruled in favor of McAllister on the contract liability issue, he agreed to reconsider the decision and hold off on ruling again until later in the litigation. In July, the Rams started to fight back by filing a counterclaim against McAllister and a third party complaint against FANS, Inc. The claim by the Rams is that McAllister is fighting the wrong entity, and FANS was in fact an agent to the Regional Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC), owner and operator of the organization that leased the Rams’ their stadium. Accordingly, the Rams argue that it is the CVC, not the Rams, that are responsible for the damages alleged by McAllister.
In late August, McAllister submitted a motion for partial summary judgment on the breach of contract claim, arguing that the Rams have acknowledged certain agreements between the team and FANS which establish their principal-agent relationship. For instance, McAllister argued that the Rams granted FANS the legal authority to sell the tickets, and that FANS had a fiduciary relationship and duty of loyalty it owed to the team. McAllister also asked the Judge to dismiss the counterclaim made by the Rams which argued FANS was actually an agent of CVC.
Another case that is currently ongoing against the Rams claims that anyone who purchased a ticket to a Rams game, or Rams merchandise, from 2010 to 2015 was deceived into supporting the team by team officials, in violation of state law. Specifically, the suit alleges that Rams team owner Stan Kroenke lied about his intentions to keep the team in St. Louis. The evidence presented include various statements that Kroenke made in response to questions about his intentions to keep the team in St. Louis, such as an interview with ESPN in February 2014 where he said the Rams’ future was “right here in St. Louis.” The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for tickets, concessions and other purchases made.