February 09, 2011
Fans whose Super Bowl plans were altered by seating problems at Super Bowl XLV have filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, fraud and deceptive sales practices.
The Dallas News reports that the plantiffs are seeking $5 million from the NFL. Up to 1,000 fans may join the suit.
Some of the complaints are legitimate (the 400 fans who didn't end up having a seat to the game, for instance) while others come off as a bit forced (some season-ticket holders weren't aware they'd be in temporary seats).
"Unfortunately, not all of the ticket-holders to Super Bowl XLV got what they bargained for or what was promised to them," the lawsuit states.
Since most of my legal knowledge was accrued from watching old episodes of "Matlock," I can't speak on whether or not the fans have a case. (But if not getting what you bargained for at an NFL game is grounds for a lawsuit, then lawyers in Cincinnati and Detroit are going to be awfully busy soon.) They don't need to have a case, though. The NFL can't get into a legal battle with fans because it would be a public relations disaster. Lawyers on both sides know this, which is why it's never going to go to trial. They'll settle way before that.
The league screwed up twice: first by not having Cowboys Stadium ready, and second by its inadequate offer of repentance which would give fans $2,400 and was later amended to include a ticket to next year's Super Bowl or an option to take a ticket to a future Super Bowl, airfare and hotel included. This wasn't a negotiation. The NFL should have made the fans an offer they couldn't refuse up front. Now it'll end up having to pay more than they would have originally needed.
Let's not mourn for these aggrieved fans. When it comes down to it, they missed a football game and now they're trying to cash in on it. The NFL would be wise to refund any and all money the fans spent to get to Dallas and into the game, hook them up with tickets and VIP access to see their favorite team play a game next season, and maybe throw in some spending money for their trouble. The quicker this gets out of the media the better. We have a lockout to focus on, after all.
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