A lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court late Monday night alleges that the NFL and Chargers officials violated the league’s relocation guidelines when team owners approved the Chargers’ relocation from San Diego to Los Angeles.
The National Football League, its 32 teams and the city of San Diego are all named defendants in the lawsuit, which former San Diego Attorney Michael Aguirre and former San Diego Assistant Attorney Maria Severson filed on behalf of those in San Diego resident and restaurant owner Ruth Henriks.
The lawsuit alleges that Chargers owner Dean Spanos “decided to move the team there despite the city spending millions in taxpayer dollars during the team’s tenure in San Diego and despite numerous efforts by city leaders to protect the team.” in San Diego to hold Los Angeles” in 2006.
“The plaintiff suspected that the alleged injury was caused by wrongdoing when the plaintiff discovered in December 2021 that Chargers owner Dean Spanos admitted he had made the decision to move the Chargers franchise to Los Angeles back in 2006 embarrassed, but remained silent about this decision,” the complaint reads. Adding: “The plaintiff discovered these facts when the plaintiff read an article by sports columnist Bryce Miller dated December 10, 2021 in the Union-Tribune.”
The complaint cites a quote from former NFL official Jim Steeg, who told the San Diego Union-Tribune last month that Spanos had already planned the move: “It only took him 10 years to do it.”
Spanos told Chargers fans in a public statement in 1997 that the team would remain in San Diego unless the franchise suffered “severe financial difficulties,” but according to the lawsuit, Spanos “broke his word” two decades later and quit the move to Los Angeles to Chargers valued at more than $1 billion (as of 2017).
On January 12, 2017, the Chargers tweeted a letter from Dean Spanos announcing the decision to relocate from San Diego to Los Angeles.
The lawsuit further alleges that despite “a significant expenditure of public funds” related to the construction of a new stadium in San Diego or the modernization of the existing stadium, “there was no good faith negotiation by the Chargers or the NFL” and ” the team did not do this”. Connect with the community or the city in a meaningful way.”
On November 24, 2021, the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County agreed to a $790 million settlement with the NFL arising out of a lawsuit alleging the The Rams’ relocation revealed Los Angeles, alleged violations of league relocation policies similarly raised by Aguirre and Severson.
A request from Aguirre and Severson was directed to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on January 14, 2022, asking if the city plans to file a lawsuit like the City of St. Louis has done to recover taxpayer losses from to reclaim the chargers’ relocation.
Their request required the mayor and city to respond to them by Jan. 21, but the city declined to respond to their letter, prompting legal action by Henricks, Aguirre and Severson to recover alleged taxpayer losses.
However, city officials appeared to welcome the lawsuit, acknowledging that “a lawsuit against the National Football League is a costly and uphill battle,” Gloria and prosecutor Mara Elliott wrote in a joint statement aired to NBC 7 San Diego would.
“As Mr Aguirre himself has stated in interviews, his lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers is still in its infancy. Given that the city’s taxpayers would be the recipients of any damages and refunds that the court may award if the litigation prevails, we wish Mr. Aguirre success in these efforts,” her statement added.
The first hearing in this case is scheduled for July 1, 2022 at 9:15 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court.
A copy of the complaint submitted can be viewed here: