A San Diego Superior Court judge noted that the lawsuit was filed after the statute of limitations had passed, and that the plaintiff appeared to lack standing to bring a claim against the League.
A San Diego Superior Court has dismissed a breach-of-contracts lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL).
As LegalReader.com has reported before, San Diego-based plaintiff Ruth Henricks alleged that the N.F.L. violated the terms of its agreement with the city when it allowed the Chargers to move from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017.
In her ruling, Superior Court Judge Carolyn Caietti “deconstructed” each of Henricks’ claims, opining that the plaintiff had failed to establish why she should be allowed to pursue damages against the N.F.L. after the statute of limitations for filing a claim had already passed.
“From hearing the argument I heard today, I just don’t see how you get around the statute of limitations and the standing issues,” Caietti said at the end of a 45-minute hearing.
“I’m going to uphold the [tentative] ruling,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll find out from the Court of Appeal if that was correct or not.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune notes that Caietti’s closely paralleled the conclusion of an initial finding released late last Thursday.
In her 14-page decision, Caietti ruled that it was too late for Hendricks to claim that the Chargers, and the N.F.L, had wrongfully vacated San Diego.
Caietto stated that the professional football team had left the city five years ago.
If city officials believed that the Chargers move had harmed the city, or could harm the city’s interests, Caietti said, then they should have filed a lawsuit when shortly after the alleged breach of contract had occurred.
However, Hendricks only filed suit in January of 2022, a half-decade after the Chargers’ change in venue.
The San Diego Union-Tribune observes that, while the Chargers have played in San Diego since 1961, their stadium began showing signs of its age.
Although the city attempted to upgrade Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers’ ownership raised questions about the stadium’s long-term durability.
When the Chargers eventually demanded that they be provided a new venue, San Diego spent an estimated 20 years trying to find different ways to appease the franchise.
Despite the city’s efforts, the Chargers left for good in 2017, when the team’s ownership felt that Los Angeles would likely provide better opportunities for the franchise.
Henricks, adds the Union-Tribune, filed her lawsuit shortly after St. Louis announced that it would settle a similar lawsuit for $790 million.
That complaint, which was covered by LegalReader.com, also alleged that the N.F.L. and the Rams franchise had breached contracts by moving the Rams to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.
While the St. Louis lawsuit was filed by the City of St. Louis, Caietti noted that Hendricks did not appear to have San Diego’s explicit backing.
Consequently, Caietti found that Hendricks, aside from missing the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, also lacked standing to formally bring a complaint against the N.F.L.
“Plaintiff lacks standing to take legal action against defendants after the city declined to bring claims against defendants,” the judge wrote. “The city’s decision on whether to pursue a legal claim is an exercise of its discretion.”
Michael Aguirre, an attorney for the City of San Diego who offered Hendricks legal representation, said that he will help Hendricks file an appeal.
Aguirre said that the legal questions presented by Caietti, specifically those relating to Hendricks’ ability to claim damages without the direct or explicit support of San Diego, will prove “interesting.”
“What do you when the city doesn’t say ‘yes’ [to a lawsuit] and doesn’t say no, when you’re talking about a very valuable asset?” Aguirre asked. “It’s an interesting legal question we will pursue.”