A group of minority owners of the Tampa Bay Rays have filed a lawsuit against principal owner Stuart Sternberg. Per Emily L. Mahoney and Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times, the group alleges that Sternberg had been negotiating to sell an interest in the team to Montreal investors in 2014, without the minority owners' knowledge.
Here's more from the Tampa Bay Times:
The suit, which was filed Saturday in Pinellas County, accuses Sternberg of depriving the minority owners of their profits from the team while simultaneously requiring them to pay taxes on that would-be income.
That tactic squeezed out some partners, forcing them to sell their shares to Sternberg at a fraction of their value, the plaintiffs said. In January 2020, he transferred "the entire baseball club and franchise" to a new company under his sole management, without notifying the other partners, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs accuse Sternberg of acquiring more stakes in the team while also negotiating to sell an interest in the team to Canadian businessman Stephen Bronfman and his Montreal Baseball Group starting in the spring of 2014. The Tampa Bay Times report notes that Sternberg had previously told the publication that his conversations about a potential sale to Bronfman did not begin until about 2017.
The minority owners who filed the suit are Robert Kleinert, Gary Markel, Stephen M. Waters and a trust bearing his name, and the MacDougald Family Limited Partnership, LLLP. The three individuals share of the Rays comes to just under 9.6 percent, according to the lawsuit. For Sternberg's part, his ownership share has risen to 85 percent in 2020, from 49 percent back in 2004, the plaintiffs said.
According to the Times, the lawsuit requests a jury trial, a receiver to be appointed to review the partnership's finances, more than $30,000 in damages, and for Sternberg's company to be expelled as general partner.
Sternberg, 62, is a former Wall Street investor and Goldman Sachs partner, who first became a part-owner of the Tampa Bay Rays (then the Devil Rays) in May 2004. He's been managing general partner since October 2005.