The corporate structure related to the former St. Louis Rams has agreed to pay up to $25 million to plaintiffs alleging that the NFL team was dishonest about its 2016 departure for Los Angeles and thereby caused the plaintiffs to overpay for tickets and merchandise.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy J. Boyer on Aug. 19 gave preliminary approval to the agreement, which resulted from mediation with former Jackson County Circuit Judge Jay Daugherty, according to court filings.
If approved, the agreement will allow a class of potentially tens of thousands of plaintiffs who bought tickets and merchandise between April 21, 2010 and Jan. 4, 2016 to get a 25 percent refund. The parties have chosen RG/2 as their claims administrator, and notice will occur by email, postcards and publication in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rams may challenge the class membership of any individual claimant.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys will receive either $7 million in attorneys’ fees and costs — constituting 28 percent of the $25 million cap — or the fees and costs awarded by the court, whichever is less. This money is separate and apart from the amount to be paid to the class members.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys Daniel T. DeFeo, Dominic DeFeo, Thayer Weaver and Steven J. Stolze did not comment but in their pleadings described the settlement as a “robust” and “excellent outcome.”
The defense team, which consisted of Roger Heidenreich, Adam Johnson, Michael Harriss and other attorneys at Dentons, did not respond to a request for comment.
The parties are to file their motion for final approval by Nov. 18. A final approval hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17.
The plaintiffs originally filed their claim in St. Louis Circuit Court under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. They alleged that team owner Stan Kroenke was normally so quiet about his business dealings he earned the nickname “Silent Stan,” but after buying majority ownership of the team in 2010, he began to make public statements indicating his intent to keep the team in St. Louis.
Between 2010 and 2016, the plaintiffs alleged, “Defendants made false promises and committed fraud . . . indicating that they would not lead the charge out of St. Louis, that their entire focus was on building a winner in and for St. Louis, [and] that they would attempt to do everything they could do to keep the team in St. Louis.”
The defense made a sustained effort to remove the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The dispute regarding venue twice went to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ultimately sent the case back to Boyer.
According to the pleadings, mediation included two all-day, face-to-face sessions and multiple telephone sessions spaced out during a month.
The case is James Pudlowski et al. v. The St. Louis Rams Partnership, 1622-CC00083-01.