Sunday, February 6, 2011

Missing seats, Super Bowl tickets, and contract damages

The NFL and the people who run Cowboys Stadium built a lot of temporary seating for the Super Bowl (apparently to set an attendance record by exceeding 105,000), but approximately 1250 seats could not be installed. The league found alternative seating for 850 of those fans, but not for the remaining 400, who were turned away with a refund of triple their ticket's face value--$2400.

Here is a contract remedy question: Are these fans entitled to more and could they successfully sue the NFL for it? Suppose Fan A spent more than $1600 on travel, hotel, etc. He likely spent that money only because he had a ticket to the game and expected to be able to attend, and the NFL knew he will and must make those expenditures to attend the game. So are those recoverable reliance damages? Suppose Fan B paid more than the $ 800 face value because he had to buy the ticket through a broker/scalper. The league controls who purchases tickets and must be aware that many publicly available seats are sold to people who are going to resell them at at least a small profit. I suppose a court might deny recovery there because the beyond-cost resale is against public policy. Still, could Fan B make that case?

Contracts/Remedies people, help me out.

Update: The league is now offering fans one of two packages: 1) $ 2400 (triple face value) plus tickets to next years' Super Bowl, including air fare and accommodations or 2) Tickets, including air fare and accommodations, to any future Super Bowl. Apparently fans balked at the initial offer made Sunday oif triple face value because most spent more than that on tickets, travel, and accommodations.

So a different remedy question: Did the NFL actually go beyond what it would have been on the hook for in litigation? It seems clear Fan A could have sued for all reliance damages (ticket cost, accommodations, etc.). Could Fan A also have gotten tickets to a future Super Bowl, arguing that he was denied the unique experience of attending the game?

Further Update:  The lawsuit (mentioned in the Comments) is a class action in California on behalf of more than 1000 fans. But this must include some of the fans who were given new seats. What more could the fans possibly get, especially the fans who were given alternate seating? They have not been damaged. And, just to get procedural: Is there jurisdiction in California? Is there a good forum non conveniens argument? And should California law (which allows for treble damages) apply? This one could get interesting.