On Wednesday, a Los Angeles firm filed the first lawsuit arising from the seating fiasco at Super Bowl XLV. With the help of our friends at KXAS, the NBC affiliate in Fort Worth, we’ve obtained a copy of the complaint.
The named plaintiffs are Steve Simms and Mike Dolabi. Simms, a Pennsylvania resident, purchased one of the 400 tickets that didn’t translate to a seat in the stadium. Dolabi, a Texas resident, obtained the right to buy tickets to the Super Bowl via his purchase of a $100,000 Personal Seat License along with season tickets to Cowboys games.
And that’s the eye-opener. First reported by Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News and mentioned earlier today on PFT Live, PSL owners and season-ticket holders reportedly paid $1,200 per seat to attend the Super Bowl, and per the complaint they allegedly had obstructed views and “temporary metal fold out chairs.” The seats also allegedly “lacked any reasonable view of the stadium’s prized ‘video board,’ which Defendant [Jerry] Jones and the Cowboys routinely claim is one of the most unique and best features of Cowboys Stadium.”
The specific number of Cowboys season-ticket holders affected by the allegedly substandard seats and sight lines isn’t identified. At paragraph 4.6, the complaint alleges that “most” of the Cowboys season-ticket holders who purchased Super Bowl tickets received, as described in paragraph 4.10, “obstructed and illegitimate seats.”
The thrust of the case still seems to be the 400 who bought tickets to the game but were denied admission. The complaint scoffs at the offer of a triple refund and a free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl (the NFL has since expanded the offer to provide a ticket to any future Super Bowl), explaining that “this monetary sum is wholly insufficient to compensate Plaintiffs for all of their expenses, including but not limited to travel costs, or for their disappointment and frustration in not being able to properly enjoy the Super Bowl” and that “triple the face value does not in many cases begin to approach the cost of the tickets paid by many class members.”
The case seeks financial damages under four legal theories: breach of contract; breach of the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing” (that’s legalese for an implied promise that one side to a transaction won’t try to unfairly screw the other side); fraud, deceit, and concealment, arising from the admitted failure to advise the 400 ticket holders of the possible unavailability of their seats and from the alleged failure to inform the Cowboys season-ticket holders that they’d be getting lesser accommodations than those to which they were accustomed; and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for all financial losses (travel expenses, lodging, etc.) arising from a trip to the Super Bowl that didn’t result in actually attending the Super Bowl in the seats that were purchased, treble damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and attorneys’ fees. The complaint also seeks an award of punitive damages, a controversial tool for punishing intentional wrongdoing and for deterring the defendants and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Omitted from this class action are the 850 ticket holders who supposedly received comparable or better seats in lieu of the seats they purchased. As MDS pointed out earlier tonight, accounts contradicting the “comparable or better” allegation are emerging. Unless the current class action is amended, any potential legal rights of those folks will have to be pursued via a separate lawsuit.
We’ll continue to follow this case as it develops. NFL executive V.P. of business ventures Eric Grubman is scheduled to join PFT Live on Thursday to discuss the situation.