Last week, the NFL settled for $790 million the lawsuit over the relocation of the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles after suffering repeated courtroom losses in the Gateway City. While confident in its legal position that St. Louis did not have the standing to sue, the league decided to punt and take a loss.
Across the country in California, however, the league is now 3-0 in relocation lawsuit decisions. A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed a lower court’s ruling to toss the city of Oakland’s lawsuit over the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas. Combined with a state court dismissal of an Oakland lawsuit, the NFL is undefeated on the West Coast.
Why the difference?
“Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw in terms of judges,” Jim Quinn, a partner with Berg & Androphy who represents the city of Oakland, said of the disparity between the California and Missouri outcomes.
In the federal case, which alleges antitrust violations by the NFL, Quinn concedes that the tack was an uphill battle. Oakland was arguing that the NFL conspired to limit the number of teams, contending that Oakland otherwise would still have a team.
“While Oakland doesn’t need to provide indisputable evidence of traceability to win access to federal courts, the city can’t rely on a Hail Mary of speculation to satisfy standing,” wrote Judge Patrick J. Bumatay in a concurring opinion (traceability refers to the connection between the wrong being alleged and damages). “In my view, we should have blown the whistle on jurisdiction rather than letting that claim play out on the merits.”