Football & the Law

More than 100-thousand people attended Super Bowl XLV in 2010 to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Green Bay Packers in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The problem – roughly 2,000 of those fans didn’t have a seat from which to enjoy the game.

These folks had paid for their seats, and they had all travelled there, many spending thousands of dollars on the whole thing. Apparently temporary seats were to have been set up and inspected for safety. Some of the seats were there, but hadn’t been inspected; others simply had no seats at all.

Some 400 fans were forced to stand and watch the game from monitors in a stadium club. Needless to say, there were many unhappy people watching the biggest game of the year on that night.

Of course, Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, and NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell accepted full responsibility. Affected fans were offered a variety of compensation packages; still a group of fans including some, who had obstructed views, filed a class-action lawsuit. The suit alleged breach of contract, deceptive sales practice and fraud, and asked for $100-million in damages.

A District judge dismissed all claims against the NFL except for two: a fraud claim by two fans that had obstructed views, and a breach-of-contract claim by 7 defendants.

What would you expect to happen had you been one of the affected fans attending that Super Bowl game? A jury found in favor of those with obstructed views and awarded the plaintiffs $76,000 in damages. On the fraud claims, the jury found in favor of the NFL; the plaintiffs appealed, but the appeals court upheld that verdict.

An attorney who spoke for the plaintiffs says they are pleased, “They went up against the Goliath that was the NFL and prevailed.”

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