A federal judge approved a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit brought by football fans who bought personal seat licenses for St. Louis Rams home games before the team was moved to Los Angeles in January 2016. U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., a Missouri federal judge, granted the plaintiffs $7.2 million in attorney fees after approving two $3.6 million awards. Each of these awards are to be paid by the St. Louis Rams LLC to counsel.
Judge Limbaugh also released an order granting final judgment for the $24 million class settlement agreement, which he initially approved on January 24, according to the Associated Press and Law360. The order also mandated the Rams to pay costs of $200,000 to class counsel as well as incentive awards to plaintiffs.
Judge Limbaugh wrote, “[t]he Court finds that the request for attorneys’ fees is fair and reasonable, considering the amount made available to the Class under the Settlement Agreement and the results obtained by Class Counsel; the contingent nature of the fees; the novelty and difficulty of the issues involved in the case; the experience, reputation and ability of the attorneys; awards in similar cases; the time and work required; and the preclusion of other employment by the attorneys due to acceptance of this case.”
Prior to the team’s relocation to Los Angeles in January 2016, thousands of fans in St. Louis had purchased personal seat licenses for the duration of 30 seasons, which was the length of the Rams lease at their former stadium, then known as the Edward Jones Dome. Personal seat license holders filed the lawsuit to recover 30 percent of the initial purchase price, a refund for the nine unused years of the seat license fee, plus damages. The Rams moved from Anaheim, California to St. Louis after suffering from complexities in securing a new or improved stadium in the Los Angeles Area in 1995.
Initially, other National Football League owners rejected former owner Georgia Frontiere’s attempt to move the team in a 21-6 vote. However, after using the threat of litigation, Frontiere convinced owners to vote 23-7 in favor of moving to St. Louis, along with the Raiders returning to Oakland, in April 1995. The team remained in St. Louis for 21 seasons until current Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, brought the team back to Los Angeles after 21 seasons.