Lost and largely forgotten in the league’s various legal entanglements is the fact that a class-action lawsuit still lingers regarding the seating fiasco at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas.
As the case proceeds, a fight has emerged regarding the question of whether the plaintiffs will be permitted to question Commissioner Roger Goodell under oath, in a pre-trial deposition.
The NFL has filed a motion in court to block the deposition. The plaintiffs have filed a written response. We’ve obtained a copy of the latter.
Apart from the fact that reading the paperwork makes me feel even better about the fact that I no longer practice law, the dispute brings into focus the tension between gathering evidence necessary to prove a case and putting the tactical squeeze on someone who doesn’t want to have to answer questions under oath — and who in turn has the power to make the entire case go away by authorizing a settlement.
The problem for the league is that the discovery process contemplates a very broad range of permissible inquiries. Moreover, judges often don’t react well when they sense that someone with power is trying to make a power play to avoid being involved.
In this case, however, there’s no dispute regarding the league’s responsibility for the debacle. The question is the fair measure of damages to be paid to the folks who showed up to the Super Bowl with tickets that weren’t honored. Unless Goodell has knowledge that in some way sheds light on the money lost by the plaintiffs who traveled to Dallas at significant expense to attend a football game they didn’t get to attend, this fairly obvious effort to apply pressure should fail.