BY: DAN LUST, DAN WALLACH AND STEPHANIE WEISSENBURGER
Conduct Detrimental has obtained a copy of the NFL's emergency application seeking leave to file under seal their petition for writ of prohibition. In short, this is a further attempt by the NFL to move the trial for the Rams' relocation matter out of St. Louis. We provide full details here.
By way of brief background, on August 31, 2021, the Rams, Stanley Kroenke and the NFL had their Application for a Change of Venue denied by Judge Christopher McGraugh. This denial meant that the trial, which is scheduled for January 10, 2022, would remain in St. Louis. However, the NFL and Kroenke & Co are now seeking to overturn that decision and move the case to a different location.
On Friday, October 1, the NFL and Kroenke & Co filed a petition for writ of prohibition in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District. A writ of prohibition is an appellate court's written order to prohibit a lower court from acting because it does not have jurisdiction to do so. Therefore, this writ of prohibition is specifically designed to overturn Judge McGraugh’s decision. A copy of the Motion is attached below without the corresponding exhibits.
In their filing, the NFL and Kroenke & Co discuss the “inflammatory pretrial publicity in the St. Louis metropolitan area and its demonstrated effect on the prospective jury pool in St. Louis City… [which] will further jeopardize Defendants’ right to a fair trial if their Writ Petition is denied and the case is ultimately tried in St. Louis City.” Simply put, they argue that “there is no way to eliminate the undue influence of Plaintiffs over prospective jurors in St. Louis City given Plaintiffs’ sweeping damages claim for alleged losses to City residents of jobs, economic development, and civic pride.” A copy of the Writ Summary is attached below.
This is a potential turning point in the case.
Should the trial remain in St. Louis, the Plaintiffs (St. Louis Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority, the City of St. Louis, and the County of St. Louis) will have a decisive advantage. This is akin to home-field advantage in football, naturally. In fact, the NFL and Kroenke & Co go as far to say that, “Without a change of venue, [they] will be denied their constitutional right to a trial before a fair and impartial jury.” Furthermore, they ask that “the Court issue a preliminary and permanent writ of prohibition ordering Respondent to transfer this cause to a venue outside the metropolitan St. Louis area where no prejudice exists.”
To the extent that the NFL and Kroenke & Co win on this writ challenging venue, it will certainly be a gamechanger in this rapidly evolving action. Keep a very close eye on the outcome of this writ as it will have a tremendous impact on the resolution of the case and a potential settlement.