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McAllister v. The St. Louis Rams, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 21, 2016

RONALD MCALLISTER, Plaintiff,
v.
THE ST. LOUIS RAMS, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is comprised of three consolidated lawsuits[1] relating to the St. Louis Rams football team's January 2016 decision to move the team to a new stadium in Inglewood, California. The Rams' home stadium had been located in St. Louis, Missouri since 1995. The St. Louis Rams required football fans who wished to purchase season tickets to buy Personal Seat Licenses (“PSLs”) that entitled the PSL holder to buy one season ticket per year in a designated section of the stadium. Approximately 46, 000 PSLs were sold. Upon the announcement that the Rams would move to California, lawsuits were filed by PSL holders and others against the Rams claiming damages arising from the Rams' move. This matter is currently before the Court on three motions: (1) and (2) are motions by defendant, The St. Louis Rams, LLC, for judgment on the pleadings with respect to the complaints filed in the Envision and Arnold cases (No. 4:16 cv-262, #17; No. 4:16-cv-297, #24), [2] and (3) is plaintiff McAllister's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings in his case, No. 4:16cv172 (#35).

         I. Legal Standard

         “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Faibisch v. Univ. of Minnesota, 304 F.3d 797, 803 (8th Cir. 2002). When considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court may consider the pleadings themselves, materials embraced by the pleadings, exhibits attached to the pleadings, and matters of public record. Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999). The parties agree that Missouri law applies to the Missouri contracts that are central to this case.

         II. Discussion

         The defendant's motions in Envision and Arnold will be discussed separately from plaintiff's motion in McAllister.

         A. Defendant Rams' Motions in Envision and Arnold

         The Envision and Arnold plaintiffs claim that the Rams should continue to honor their PSL agreements by extending them to the purchase of tickets at the Rams' new California home. The defendant contends that it is entitled to judgment on the pleadings in those cases because the PSL agreements between the team and the PSL holders are by their terms no longer in effect now that the team has moved to California. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motions in part and deny them in part.

         The plaintiffs[3] and defendant were parties to Personal Seat License Agreements (“PSL Agreements” or “Agreements”) that governed the issuance of Rams' season tickets to games played in the new Stadium at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri (the “Stadium”).[4] There are two nearly-identical agreements at issue. The original license agreements were issued by the Rams' ticketing agent, FANS, Inc., and that agreement is referred to as the “FANS” Agreement. Subsequent PSLs were sold directly by the Rams using an almost identical contract (“Rams” Agreement).

Key provisions in the FANS Agreements include
Paragraph 1. CPSL License Fee and Stadium Area. Licensee will be entitled to the opportunity to purchase Season Ticket(s) to Licensee's seats for all Games at the Stadium until March 1, 2025.
Paragraph 8. Best Efforts. If the RAMS play any of their [National Football League (“NFL”)] games other than at the Stadium (e.g. at Busch Stadium if the Stadium is not completed on time), Licensor will use its best efforts to assure Licensee the right to purchase…tickets for seats in the stadium where the transferred games are played. Licensee shall be obligated to buy tickets for Games played in the Stadium in St. Louis and NFL games played at Busch Stadium for which tickets are available for purchase by Licensee.
Paragraph 9. Representations of Licensee. Licensee hereby represents, warrants and/or acknowledges as follows: … C. Licensee is acquiring the CPSL(s) solely for the right to purchase Season Ticket(s) to NFL Games played in the Stadium.
Paragraph 12. Additional Terms. (A.) … All rights granted to Licensee pursuant to this Agreement are subject to the terms and conditions of the Stadium Agreements and those other agreements signed in connection with the RAMS agreement to relocate to St. Louis. Licensee acknowledges that this Agreement remains valid only as long as NFL Football is played at the Stadium by the RAMS, up to a maximum of thirty (30) years. Licensee acknowledges that Licensee has no claim against the RAMS with respect to this CPSL and/or its termination whatsoever. Licensee understands and acknowledges the possibility that the RAMS may not play its games in the Stadium or St. Louis for the entire term contemplated by this License. Licensee expressly agrees not to sue the RAMS for damages or injunctive relief related to this CPSL, including without limitation should the RAMS not play its home games in the Stadium or St. Louis for any reason.

         The Envision and Arnold plaintiffs maintain that the Paragraph 8 “Best Efforts” provision of the Agreements entitles them to the opportunity to buy tickets for games ---“transferred games” --- to ...


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