With the P.R. battle long since lost, the NFL nevertheless has scored an important legal victory regarding the seating fiasco that unfolded during Super Bowl XLV in North Texas.
According to the Associated Press, class-action status has been denied for the persons who had tickets to the game but who ultimately didn’t get to sit in the seats, due to the inability to finalize temporary seating at Cowboys Stadium.
Judge Barbara Lynn concluded that the proposed class was too small, and that the damages owed to each class member would vary too greatly.
“We are disappointed with the Court’s ruling but look forward to representing hundreds of our clients this year in the trials against the NFL,” plaintiff’s lawyer Michael Avenatti said. “During those trials, we will prove that the NFL defrauded its fans.”
It sounds good, but the reality is that Avenatti wanted to conduct one trial on behalf of all of the fans who showed up with tickets and didn’t get to see it game. It’s cheaper and considerably less time consuming than conducting one trial for each plaintiff, given the total dollars at issue.
Technically, each person who showed up at the game with a ticket and who wasn’t allowed in to watch the game is entitled to receive a full refund of the purchase price, along with any damages reasonably incurred to get to the game, including travel expenses, lodging expenses, and lost wages. If a fraud claim can be proven, the plaintiffs would be entitled to “general” damages for their inconvenience, and possibly punitive damages.
Regardless, the case is much stronger if it proceeds as a class action. While the litigation is far from over, it suddenly became far less lucrative for the lawyer, and in turn far less attractive — especially since any out-of-state fans who didn’t get to the see the game will now have to return to Dallas for their trials.