One of the drawbacks of the class action was addressed in a big way today as the judge affirmed that it is valid whether the team move or not. It has been somewhat problematic getting involved in an issue where basically the lawyers come out better if the team moves. The summary from todays Seattle-PI:
In this case, however, there are several referees given the growing number of potential lawsuits. The judge in the class-action fan suit ruled Monday that at least part of the case is valid regardless of the outcome of the city's lease litigation and thus opened the door for further discovery.
The Sonics' lawyers had requested a stay pending the city's June trial, but Jones ruled that the fans have at least one claim -- that they would not have bought season tickets for this season but for the "false representation that the Sonics would remain in Seattle through 2009-10."
The judge noted that the fans said that even if the team is forced to stay in Seattle the next two years, they wouldn't have wanted to buy season tickets because to do so would be "analogous to spending Valentine's Day with a spouse who has filed for divorce and professed love for someone else."
Mike Myers, an attorney representing the fan group, said "the Sonics lied to the season ticket holders in a number of respects. Then they lied about making their best efforts to keep the team in Seattle."
This means that the depositions we were talking about before can and will occur. Go get 'em Mike!
One question about Howards lawsuit that continues to get asked is "why now?" This gets asked as people try to brush it off as a PR attempt or dismiss it as unwinnable, a last ditch effort to save face. The answer to this is that we have to note there is a significant change of circumstance that occured last week. It is one thing to say "I think there was a breach of good faith.", quite another to say "I have documentary evidence of breach of good faith."
Last weeks release of e-mails, and those mails being reviewed by lawers created this shift. Most of the lawyers I have spoken with in the last 24 hours say that the evidence Schultz has is really rare and hard to get. Good faith cases rarely get off the ground because of the difficulty in documenting them. In this case not only do you have evidence of the bad faith, but also direct evidence of the deciept and intention to decieve about the status of the good faith. It is really damning. You could not get a judge in this case to force Clay Bennett to turn over all his e-mails the way the city has, and that by posessing them there is grounds for further investigation and a very good shot at winning this case. There seemed to actually be a pretty good concensus that Schulz wins this case, but also a strong concensus that the act of undoing the transaction could be a tough request. Regardless if Schulz has a chance to go to court and win the trial then he has a chance to broker a settlement and that is by far the more likely outcome.