The timing of the letter sent by PSV/MLS on March 16, which outlined the position of the defendants as to the “notice” issue, struck me as odd at the time. I noted in that March 19 story that I assumed whatever was sent by the Plaintiffs was what sent PSV/MLS scrambling to send out that letter:
We now know what the “discovery document” was: Plaintiffs’ Interrogatories and Requests for Production. This is a standard step in just about any civil lawsuit of any reasonably complex matter. You can read up on what Interrogatories and Requests for Productions are here and here respectively. But they’re basically fact-finding exercises designed to produce evidence in the lawsuit. There are all sorts of limits on this of course (Attorney-client being a big one), but the main goal is for the parties to obtain evidence and answer questions prior to a trial. With that in mind, I’ve reviewed the document sent by the Plaintiffs and I thought I’d look at the more interesting requests from the City.
Note: I’ve made some cosmetic edits to make sure I can fit the information onto one page where possible, but I have not edited the content of the questions in any way.
First up: Requests for Admissions from Crew Soccer Stadium, LCC.
These questions are pretty clearly designed to establish the basis for which PSV/MLS are subject to the Modell law, based on “Crew Soccer Stadium” and the defendants having availed themselves of certain tax subsidies (and establishing certain jurisdictional benchmarks). These are typically the types of questions that would not be a problem for the defendants to answer, but of course attorneys get paid to avoid providing information which could damage their position.
Next up: Requests for production of documents from MLS.
Oh man, do we have a mouthful here. Let’s do a paint-by-numbers, so to speak.
1-2: The infamous Austin Clause, which in theory allows Anthony Precourt to move from Columbus to Austin without being subject to a relocation vote by the other MLS “owners.” Nobody has ever seen this document, nor does anyone know what information is actually in it. Don Garber in the aforementioned interview claims that MLS attempted for nearly two years to find a local buyer, and nobody came up with a legitimate offer. Enter: Anthony Precourt, who agreed to purchase, with the provision that he could move to Austin. As you can imagine, I would REALLY love to get a look at that clause, assuming it exists /tinfoil.
6-8: This appears to be pretty standard in the context of this lawsuit. Given that there is a requirement that a local buyer be given the opportunity to purchase the team, it would be relevant to know what prior offers (if any) have been made to Mr. Precourt to purchase his interest in the team.
12-15: Boy, wouldn’t we all love clarification on the MLS ownership structure.
21: Related to 6-8, in that prospective owners would want information regarding valuations of MLS teams generally, and the Crew in particular.
Next up: Requests for Admissions from PSV.
Again, let’s take this by the numbers:
4-6, 10: These questions are designed to establish that PSV has availed themselves of tax subsides as well as direct funding from the relevant government agencies, which would in theory subject them to the jurisdiction of the Modell law. I would expect that PSV/MLS isn’t going to admit to anything of the sort of course.
14-18: If this language seems familiar, it’s basically lifted right from the Modell law, basically reframing each of the elements required to comply with the law. Of course, we know that PSV/MLS is claiming that notice has been provided (we just don’t know what date they’ll claim established it).
Finally: Requests for production of documents from PSV.
One more time:
7-10: Again, these appear to be pretty standard requests for documents related to PSV’s exploration (if any) as to keeping the team in Columbus, including selling the team to a local interests.
21-31, 40-41: A huge number of the requests have to do with establishing the “value” of the Crew franchise. All of these documents would be necessary of course to come up with a valuation. Of course, that doesn’t mean that whatever valuation that is reached is the “sale price,” but it would give prospective buyers some baseline upon which to make a bona fide offer.
So there is a look at the more interesting questions and requests from the plaintiffs in this case. You can also see why PSV/MLS is asking for a delay in providing responses to these documents: There is a LOT there. As I mentioned yesterday it’s probably likely that there is a stay issued by the court at least as to some of these requests. It depends in part on the timeline for the motion to dismiss, most likely. We’ll have more information on the 19th, when MLS files their motion.