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Tampa Bay Rays partners sue Sternberg, allege 'fraudulent transfer' of team

The owners suing Sternberg said he made the transfer for the specific purpose of "stripping" the Limited partners of their rights to the team.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg gestures as he speaks to the media before a baseball game between the Rays and the New York Yankees, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A group of minority owners of the Tampa Bay Rays filed a lawsuit, suing principal owner Stuart Sternberg, according to new court documents filed.

The group of five makes up about 9.6 percent of the team's ownership. They filed the lawsuit on Monday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. The suit claims that Sternberg fraudulently transferred the franchise to Rays Baseball Club at the start of 2020, without communicating that to the partners.

The partners suing Sternberg: Robert Kleinert, Markel Gary, the MacDougald Family Limited Partnership, Stephen M. Waters, and a trust in Waters' name filed a lawsuit against Sternberg in May 2021 for taking part in what they describe as "a relentless scheme to squeeze" them out.

The suit claims Rays Baseball Club, which is controlled by Sternberg, now manages and operates the Rays franchise and team. 

"These actions have stripped [the owners] of the value of their long-held investments in the franchise and team," the lawsuit claims.

RELATED: Rays minority owners sue Stuart Sternberg over alleged scheme to 'squeeze' them out

The group of minority owners, under the partnership agreement, claim to have the right to be informed of the Partnership's financial and tax status and the right to be notified of any amendments to the partnership agreement. 

According to the suit, "Sternberg reported that the huge investment return to the Partnership would result in additional taxable income of the partners but that he would not be making any distributions." 

However, they say Sternberg did not share that $376 million from Fox Sports Sun had been received after the transfer of ownership and had been transferred into Rays Baseball Club. Those funds would not become part of the partnership's revenues, the suit claims. 

According to the lawsuit, Sternberg is in violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and is seeking damages in excess of $30,000.

RELATED: Rays may stay in St. Pete; mayor sending Trop redevelopment plans back to drawing board

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