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Sternberg calls for arbitration in lawsuit brought by Rays’ minority owners

Attorneys for Sternberg disputed ‘baseless’ claims brought by five limited partners in May.
 
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg spoke to St. Petersburg's City Council about the team's proposal to redevelop the city's Tropicana Field site on April 15. Sternberg is facing a lawsuit from several limited partners in the club, alleging he'd been consolidating control of the team and was squeezing minority owners out of profits. In a new filing, lawyers for Sternberg moved for the suit to be settled via arbitration.
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg spoke to St. Petersburg's City Council about the team's proposal to redevelop the city's Tropicana Field site on April 15. Sternberg is facing a lawsuit from several limited partners in the club, alleging he'd been consolidating control of the team and was squeezing minority owners out of profits. In a new filing, lawyers for Sternberg moved for the suit to be settled via arbitration. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published July 1, 2021

In his first major court response to a lawsuit brought by a group of minority team partners, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has called for the case to be settled through arbitration.

Wednesday’s filing in Pinellas County claims the owners’ partnership agreement allows Sternberg to invoke an arbitration clause in the event of disputes that can’t be settled in mediation. The motion says mediation attempts last fall were unsuccessful, and therefore arbitration — not litigation — is the binding next step.

Five partners who collectively own about 9.6 percent of the team — Robert Kleinert, Gary Markel, Stephen M. Waters and a trust in his name, and the MacDougaled Family Limited Partnership — sued Sternberg in May, alleging he was running a “relentless scheme” to consolidate control over the team and squeeze his limited partners out of profits.

Related: Rays' minority owners sue Sternberg, say he secretly negotiated Montreal deal

Lawyers for Sternberg disputed the claims in Wednesday’s motion. calling them “baseless accusations and allegations.”

“Virtually all of the allegations set forth ... are based on inaccurate or incorrect facts and assumptions, many of which the Plaintiffs already know are untrue,” the motion states.

The motion said Sternberg’s transfer of legal team ownership to a limited liability corporation under his name “was not a ‘theft’ of the Club by Mr. Sternberg as they disingenuously allege,” but “simply an internal restructuring.” Sternberg’s corporation, and therefore the team, remain a wholly owned subsidiary of the original partnership, the motion states.

Related: The Rays, the mayor and Montreal: St. Petersburg's stadium drama, explained

Messages for the plaintiff’s attorney, Leonard Englander, were not immediately returned Thursday morning. A spokesperson for the Rays said Sternberg and the team declined to comment.