A St. Louis judge fined Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt and other NFL owners Wednesday and set a hearing for potential contempt of court for failing to disclose a fuller picture of their financial records as the judge previously requested.
That request came last month as part of discovery for a long-running lawsuit that alleges the NFL bypassed league relocation rules when the Rams left St. Louis.
Judge Christopher McGraugh levied Hunt a $5,000 fine — and also fined Dallas owner Jerry Jones $6,000, New England owner Robert Kraft $5,000 and New York Giants owner John Mara $8,000 — during a hearing Wednesday, in which he accused each of delaying in providing financial statements to gauge their net worth.
“It does seem to me that your clients … are dragging their feet on this,” McGraugh told a lawyer for the owners, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which attended the hearing and has been covering the lawsuit since its 2017 origin. “It seems like we’re in a three-card monte game.”
A month earlier, the judge warned the fines would arrive if fuller financial records did not. He made good on that promise Wednesday and set a hearing for Dec. 3 for why the four owners “should not be held in contempt of court,” according to his order. He also made them responsible for jointly paying $25,000 of attorney fees.
Hunt and the other three were part of a committee that helped explore the possibility of returning the Rams franchise to Los Angeles.
McGraugh also ordered Rams owner Stan Kroenke to fork over records, but the plaintiffs said he eventually obliged after initially trying to avoid disclosing them.
The lawsuit alleges that the the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles cost the city millions of dollars in revenue.
As noted by the Post-Dispatch, Missouri’s state law permits the admission of civil defendants’ financial records in order to help juries assess potential punitive damages.
A jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 10.