The first day of the Super Bowl XLV seating fiasco included a development that should surprise no one. The NFL has admitted responsibility for the gap between paid tickets and actual seats.
“The NFL let them down. The NFL takes full responsibility, and the NFL agrees they should be compensated,” defense lawyer Thad Behrens said during opening statements on Monday, per the Dallas Morning News.
The question becomes how that responsibility translates to compensation. Behrens told the jury that some of the plaintiffs want more than the law entitles them to receive. He pointed out that one plaintiff spent $35,000 on a charter flight, hotel, hospitality, and tickets. The plaintiff was forced to move to a different seat, and the plaintiff wants the full $35,000.
Behrens also explained that the NFL has tried to reimburse fans for actual losses, including tickets, airfare, hotel, meals, transportation, and related costs. While some of the plaintiffs may be overreaching for their out-of-pocket expenses, the plaintiffs undoubtedly are seeking compensation for the annoyance and inconvenience arising from the indignity of traveling to Dallas, showing up at the game, standing in a long line for multiple hours, and ultimately not being given the thing that they believed they were getting when buying the ticket. Unless the two sides can agree to put a price on that specific aspect of the damages to be paid, the jury will have to decide how much the NFL should pay.
It could be a little. It could be a lot. It could be nothing. It could be a number so big that the judge or an appeals court reduces the award. Regardless, that’s the real battleground in this specific brouhaha.
And that’s why the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Michael Avenatti, is focusing the jury’s attention on the NFL’s alleged “obsession” with setting a Super Bowl attendance record — and on evidence that the NFL realized a “debacle” was looming due to “gross incompetence.” Those facts and arguments may influence the jury to take money from the NFL and give it to the plaintiffs in this modern-day process of Robin Hood (not Dennis Moore) style wealth redistribution.