St. Louis, Kroenke to enter mediation; lawsuit may be settled today

Sports

ST. LOUIS – After more than four years, there’s a chance St. Louis’ lawsuit against Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL may be settled Tuesday.

A mediation session is scheduled for the day. The case will shift from the courtroom to conference rooms. Attorneys for the St. Louis side in one room and attorneys for the Kroenke/NFL side in the other, with a mediator going between them, trying to cut a deal.

They will try to settle in mediation what has gone unsettled for the more than 4½ years since the lawsuit was filed.

“It’s a way of the parties to the litigation, resolving their disputes themselves as opposed to putting it in the lap of 12 strangers in the jury,” said St. Louis attorney Jay Kanzler, who has been through dozens of mediations.

The process can extend beyond a single day.

The City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which operates the Dome at America’s Center, accused Kroenke and the NFL of fraud and breach of contract for allegedly encouraging St. Louis to spend millions on a new stadium plan to keep the Rams in the city while Kroenke and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell—among others—were already moving ahead with plans to move the team back to Los Angeles.

Fellow owners approved the move nearly six years ago but are now reportedly feuding with Kroenke over who will ultimately cover the costs of the lawsuit. Potential judgment figures mentioned in court have ranged from hundreds of millions to more than a billion dollars in favor of St. Louis.

“Mediation settles the case now, and for the NFL, who’ve been taking a beating in the public, to be able to settle this case and avoid any more of the bad publicity, is a real incentive,” Kanzler said.

It’s unclear whether Kroenke and fellow owners will even be 100% on the same side or try to negotiate individual settlements on their own.

The trial is just seven weeks away.

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