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Friday, March 1, 2024

Relocation Lawsuit Against Chargers, NFL Dismissed

  • Former San Diego city attorney Michael Aguirre sued the Chargers and the NFL in January.
  • Tentative ruling by judge showed 'fatal' flaws in the case that warrants a dismissal.
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Editors note: This story was updated after the case was dismissed.

Former San Diego city attorney Michael Aguirre’s lawsuit against the Chargers and the NFL over the team’s relocation to Los Angeles was dismissed Friday.

Aguirre filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Chargers in January, less than two months after the Los Angeles Rams and the NFL settled a long-running lawsuit in St. Louis over that team’s relocation. The St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority secured a record $790 million settlement in that case. 

Judge Carolyn Caietti wrote her tentative ruling obtained by Front Office Sports that the Rams case “is not evidence” in Aguirre’s lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court. Moreover, Caietti cited so many defects in the case that they can’t be fixed with an amended complaint. 

Caietti dismissed the case at a hearing Friday afternoon.

The lawsuit’s statute of limitation and legal standing issues were “fatal,” Caietti wrote. She then added, the lawsuit suffered from “insufficiency of … evidence.”

Caietti listed the many defects in the lawsuit in her tentative ruling. 

  • Ruth Hendericks, a San Diego taxpayer, was the only named plaintiff in the case. But Caietti wrote that the City of San Diego, not Hendericks, had standing to sue over the relocation. The city, however, didn’t pursue legal action when the Chargers relocated to Los Angeles after the 2016 season. 
  • The four-year statute of limitation for this type of lawsuit, Caietti wrote, expired in January 2021, a year before Aguirre’s lawsuit was filed. 
  • The Chargers didn’t violate the NFL’s relocation policy, which requires teams to make a good faith effort to remain in their cities before exploring a move. Caietti wrote the lawsuit described “considerable negotiations between” the Charges and San Diego officials along with “several ballot measures to finance the Chargers’ stadium.”

“Suing the National Football League is a costly and uphill battle,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and City Attorney Mara Elliott said in a statement to FOS earlier this year. “Given that city taxpayers would be the recipient of any damages and restitution the court may award if litigation prevails, we wish Mr. Aguirre success in this effort.”

There will be no money coming back to San Diego taxpayers. In fact, if the final ruling could lead the lawyers for the Chargers and the NFL could seek to recoup attorney fees from Aguirre.

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