ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri judge intends to push back until early 2022 the trial for St. Louis' lawsuit over the departure of the NFL's Rams to Los Angeles.
Judge Christopher McGraugh on Wednesday cited Missouri Supreme Court guidelines for reopening courts during the coronavirus pandemic, along with concerns about finding enough jurors willing to sit for a trial that could last up to two months, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
McGraugh said he intends to reschedule the trial for Jan. 10. It had originally been scheduled for October.
"I’m concerned about trying to push this through in October when at best it’s probably a 50/50, if less, chance of it actually occurring,” McGraugh told lawyers in a virtual court hearing Wednesday. Neither side objected.
The lawsuit pits St. Louis entities against Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL.
Robert Haar, a lawyer for Kroenke and the Rams, expressed concern about pretrial media coverage of the case, and about finding impartial jurors in St. Louis.
“It’s a matter of critical importance to my clients and something we’re grappling with,” he said.
McGraugh said he recognized the difficulty in finding enough impartial jurors. He said he favored using detailed questionnaires to eliminate jurors with biases long before in-person jury selection.
“I agree getting a jury in this case is going to be the most difficult part about this trial,” McGraugh said.
The 2017 lawsuit filed by the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority claims the NFL violated its own relocation rules by allowing the Rams to move to Los Angeles in 2016.
The lawsuit seeks upward of $1 billion, claiming the Rams’ departure cost the city millions in amusement, ticket and earnings tax revenue.