JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – National Football League team owners and other high-level league officials will have to turn over eight years of cellphone records as part of a lawsuit over the Rams’ move to Los Angeles, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled.
The ruling, issued earlier this week without explanation, is another win for the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority and the city in its league battle against the NFL. The city filed its lawsuit in April 2017, claiming the NFL violated its relocation guidelines by not negotiating in good faith before approving the Rams’ move to Los Angeles and that the Rams misled the city into spending $17 million in efforts to keep the team when it had no intention of staying.
The decision could open the cellphone records of some of the wealthiest men in America.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued the records could shed light on the behind-the-scenes decision-making over the relocation. NFL lawyers argued that the request was overly broad and would open up communications not involving the move.
Lawyers for both sides did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.
In August 2018, a state appeals court denied Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s motion to have the case decided in arbitration, which is considered to be more friendly to business interests. A hearing has been scheduled in a St. Louis City courtroom Monday to discuss further evidence.
In its lawsuit, St. Louis claims that by allowing the Rams to move, the NFL and its teams violated the relocation policy by failing to require the Rams to advance the interests of the league in its home territory. The city says the league allowed the Rams to move when their viability in their home market was not threatened, failed to require the Rams to work in good faith with their home market, and did not give the plaintiffs material in a timely fashion to respond adequately to the proposed transfer, among other things.
The lawsuit further alleges, “Jeff Fisher was hired as the coach of the Rams in January of 2012. He stated in an interview in December 2016 that he was informed of the Rams’s plans to move to Los Angeles when he was interviewed for the coaching job. Fisher explained that, ‘I was very fortunate to have some options,’ referencing his return to coaching in 2012, and stated, ‘I decided on L.A., or St. Louis, at the time, knowing that there was going to be a pending move.’”
It continues, “Thus by the end of 2011, and in no event later than January of 2012, the Rams had plans to move to Los Angeles and all statements in support of the St. Louis location described above (either by the NFL or the Rams) were knowingly false when made.” (Parentheses in original.)