Billionaire NFL Owners Fined Thousands by Judge in Rams Case
(Bloomberg) -- A Missouri judge fined four NFL team owners for failing to comply with his July order to turn over financial information as part of a lawsuit St. Louis filed over the move by the Rams football team to Los Angeles.
A visibly angry St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Christopher McGraugh on Wednesday fined New York Giants owner John Mara $8,000, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $6,000, and ordered Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots to pay $5,000 each. All four also were ordered to pay a total of $25,000 in fees to the plaintiff’s attorneys, according to the court order.
“I don’t think your clients are acting with good intentions,” McGraugh told National Football League attorney Benjamin Razi during the hearing.
St. Louis, along with the county and the city’s convention authority, want the records to calculate punitive damages should their breach-of-contract suit over the Rams 2016 relocation to Los Angeles prove successful. Hunt, Jones, Kraft, Mara and former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson were part of the NFL committee that handled relocation efforts at the time of the Rams move.
The owners unsuccessfully appealed McGraugh’s July order, arguing that the information requested was too broad and not relevant to the dispute about the move. Richardson and Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke had complied with the order, but the others made no effort to begin gathering the information and were dragging their feet, the judge said.
“This behavior cannot go on,” McGraugh said.
Razi pleaded with the judge for more time to provide the information before the fines kick in. He said the owners had provided “a ton of information” and that some of the requested material simply doesn’t exist.
“People are trying to protect their privacy and confidentiality,” Razi said.
The judge gave the four owners he fined until Dec. 3 to comply with his order to supply all relevant financial information. If they don’t, there will be a hearing to determine if they should be held in contempt of court.
A trial is scheduled for Jan. 10 and may run eight weeks. Damage requests could top $1 billion.
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