A lawsuit has been filed against the National Football League alleging that the league and officials with the Chargers violated NFL relocation policies when team owners approved the Chargers’ move from San Diego to Los Angeles.
The suit was filed by former San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre and former San Diego Chief Deputy City Attorney Maria Severson on behalf of San Diego resident Ruth Henricks. The league, all NFL team owners and the city of San Diego are named as defendants.
According to the suit, a demand was made to the city of San Diego to file suit, but “with no response, this taxpayer action is filed.”
The suit filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court alleges that even with the team taking millions in taxpayer dollars and despite numerous efforts from city leaders to keep the team in San Diego, Chargers owner Dean Spanos “had already made up his mind to move the team to Los Angeles” by 2006.
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 relocation, “It just took him 10 years to do it.”
Spanos told Chargers fans in a 1997 public statement that the team would remain in San Diego unless the franchise suffered “severe financial hardship,” yet according to the lawsuit, Spanos “broke his word” two decades later and announced the Los Angeles move despite the Chargers being worth more than $1 billion as of 2017.
The lawsuit alleges the NFL and the Chargers breached the league’s relocation policy by failing to negotiate in good faith with city officials over retaining the team locally and concealing that a move was in the works since 2006.
It alleges that despite “a substantial expenditure of public funds” related to establishing a new San Diego stadium or upgrading the existing stadium, “there were no good faith negotiations from the Chargers or the NFL” and “the team did not meet with the community nor the city in any meaningful way.”
Mayor Todd Gloria and City Attorney Mara Elliott issued a joint statement that said, “Suing the National Football League is a costly and uphill battle, as Mr. Aguirre himself has stated in interviews, and his lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers is at its earliest stage. 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.”
A hearing in the case is set for July.
City News Service contributed to this article.