Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lawsuit in Super Bowl ticket debacle

As one of the commenters on my earlier post noted, a class action has been filed in federal court by more than 1000 Super Bowl ticket holders against the NFL and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, among others. The action is in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, which allows for federal jurisdiction on minimal diversity (one of the named plaintiffs is from Texas). There actually are two groups of plaintiffs: 1) A group of about 400 or so ticket holders who had tickets for what would have been temporary seating that could not be completed because of weather and safety concerns and 2) A group of Cowboys personal seat license holders who, as part of the license, were promised the chance to purchase tickets for the Super Bowl, but were assigned inferior seats with poor sight lines and no "reasonable" view of the famed overhead scoreboard. The claims are for breach of contract, breach of covenant of fair dealing, fraud, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act; they seek damages, punitive damages, and treble damages under the statute.

The lawsuit comes despite the NFL's escalating efforts to settle by offering tickets to future games, as well as special benefits following Sunday's game, including the chance to go onto the field. My contracts colleagues suggest that, beyond reliance damages actually expended and maybe the difference in ticket value between the expected seat and what they received, plaintiffs are going to have a hard time quantifying actual monetary harm from "loss of enjoyment" of the game. Plus, how does the court consider that these fans also got to go onto the field? Plus, I am pretty certain the fraud claims are not sufficiently pled under FRCP 9(b). And the whole thing may not work as a single class, since the plaintiffs seem to fall in two very distinct groups with very different facts and very different damages.

Is this why people hate lawyers?