SAN DIEGO — January 12, 2017. It is a day that San Diego Chargers fans will never forget. Team owner Dean Spanos announced that after 55 years, the Bolts were bolting from San Diego for a new home in Los Angeles.
We are almost six years past that fateful day and it is time for an update on many things Chargers, San Diego, and the NFL.
Years after the team moved north for Los Angeles, two lawsuits were filed by taxpayers on behalf of the City of San Diego against the Chargers and the NFL. Since then, one of the cases was dismissed while the second faces staunch defense by the National Football League.
The first lawsuit was filed by lawyers for Ruth Henricks, a taxpayer in the City of San Diego. Henricks vs National Football League was filed in San Diego Superior Court on January 24, 2022 as a Breach of Contract case. The NFL is now asking the judge to throw the case out. That decision will be made at a July 29 hearing.
The second case was filed in San Diego Superior Court by lawyers for Robert Kirkbright, a five-year season ticket holder of the Chargers. Kirkbright vs Chargers Football Company LLC was filed on February 14, 2022 and also alleged Breach of Contract. That lawsuit has since been dismissed.
Both lawsuits filed on behalf of the City of San Diego were modeled after a case in Missouri where the City of St. Louis sued the Rams for leaving for Los Angles. That lawsuit ended up in an $800 million settlement for St. Louis.
The current case in San Diego, filed by Ruth Henricks, claims the San Diego Chargers had secret plans to move to Los Angeles, plans that she says would have violated the team's contract with the city.
The NFL is charging back, now looking to get the case tossed out of court.
In a June 20 motion for demurrer, the National Football League pushed back on the claims, focusing on two main arguments.
First, the NFL attorneys said the taxpayer does not have a right to sue on behalf of the city. The NFL continued saying that the City of San Diego had an opportunity to pursue legal action, but they chose not to, and because of that, the taxpayer can’t go back in time.
The NFL also argues that the City of San Diego missed the boat on filing any claims against the Chargers back in 2004 when they first became aware that Spanos was ready to split.
They wrote, “The city was aware as early as 2004 that the NFL was interested in relocating a franchise to Los Angeles and that the Chargers could relocate after the 2008 NFL season—in fact, the very contingency that was being discussed and negotiated.”
The lawyers argue this means the City of San Diego basically gave the green light for the Chargers to move away.
They say this directly contradicts what the lawsuit says about the Chargers having secret plans to leave. NFL attorneys added, "the city knew it and failed to inform the public of what was happening."
The NFL went even further saying even if the previous arguments stand, the Chargers leaving was not a matter that should be considered as impacting “public interest.”
The motion from the NFL goes on to say, “While the relocation of the Chargers certainly had an impact on the public in San Diego, that impact is not the type sufficient to classify as impacting public interest."
In the June 20 motion, the NFL also took a shot at the lawyer arguing the case for the taxpayers, Mike Aguirre, who was the City Attorney for San Diego from 2004-2008.
The attorneys for the NFL said, “San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country; it was represented by sophisticated legal counsel, including Plaintiff’s own counsel here, Mr. Aguirre, who approved the legality of the [negotiations] and the City secured substantial concessions—including a large termination fee in the event of the Chargers’ relocation and elimination of the minimum ‘ticket guarantee.’”
The lawsuit will be in front of a judge on July 29 to see if it will move forward or be thrown out entirely.
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