Ken Lanci’s lockout lawsuit looks to be frivolous


If it seemed to be too good to be true, perhaps that’s because it was.

We’ve reviewed a copy of the lawsuit filed Thursday by Cleveland-area businessman Ken Lanci against the Browns and the rest of the NFL.  Though the application of external pressure like Lanci’s lawsuit could force the league and the players to work out their differences, Lanci’s lawsuit severely is lacking in merit, in our opinion.

For starters, and as pointed out in a Friday item written by Patrick O’Donnell of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, no violation of Lanci’s Personal Seat Licenses will occur until games are missed.

The error lands in the lap of the Lanci’s lawyers.  Instead of alleging that the PSL agreement already has been breached and that Lanci already has been damaged, the lawsuit should have sought a declaratory judgment regarding the legality of the lockout, along with both a permanent injunction preventing any lockout and a preliminary injunction aimed at blocking the lockout while the litigation proceeds.

From Lanci’s perspective, however, a preliminary injunction wouldn’t be relevant until August, when the first preseason game is missed.  Even then, it would be difficult for Lanci to prove that he will be “irreparably harmed” (a key factor in obtaining a preliminary injunction) by the fact that the games aren’t played.  All the Browns have to do to make Lanci whole is refund the price of his tickets and compensate him for a corresponding percentage of the three-year PSL that Lanci has renewed multiple times since first buying the seats in 1997.

Then there’s the fact that the Club Seat License Agreement expressly contemplates the loss of games to a work stoppage.

Paragraph 10 of the Terms and Conditions, titled “Strikes, Damages, Destruction, Etc.,” states that, in the event of “any strike or other labor disturbance which results on the cancellation of any Browns Games at the Stadium,” the PSL holder will receive credit for such games against his or her next purcahse of the seat license.  This policy represents fair and appropriate handling of lost games (even though it excludes preseason games lost due to a labor disturbance), and the presence of the language makes Lanci’s lawsuit, in our view, weak at best, downright frivolous at worst.

In the end, it’s nothing more than a poorly-executed publicity stunt.  Though the legal system allows the Browns and the NFL to attempt to pursue compensation from Lanci and his lawyers of all expenses incurred in defending against — and undoubtedly beating back — the lawsuit, the league likely will stage a simple yet zealous defense, secure victory, and move on.  There’s no reason to make Lanci and/or his lawyers into martyrs by forcing them to compensate the league for all the time and money spent winning such a weak case.

Besides, filing a request for legal fees would expose to the world the obscene amount of money that the league pays its lawyers for each hour of work.

So thanks, Ken Lanci, for giving fans the temporary sense that there’s something we can do to end the lockout.  Your best move going forward will be to drop the case and spend the money instead on billboards, buttons, and/or bumper stickers.

25 responses to “Ken Lanci’s lockout lawsuit looks to be frivolous

  1. How can one even argue with a straight face that they were somehow “damaged” by being denied a favorite form of entertainment. There is no right to be entertained. By buying a PSL, you are essentially buying a preferential opportunity to purchase tickets and temporary loyalty from the team so that they don’t sell “your” tickets to the guy down the street.

  2. The reality is that when a person buys a PSL they are in effect investing in the NFL and the team. When the NFL asks people to pay thousands of dollars for PSL’s it becomes about more than just about being a fan. What’s frustrating is that the owners and players don’t seem to care about the value of the PSL owners’ investment. They ask us to invest but then we’re pushed aside quickly when their own interests are at stake.

  3. “giving the fans the temporary sense that theres something we can do to end the lockout”? There is something you can do. Dont buy anything NFL related.Buy a tent and go camping this fall. Cancel your Sunday Ticket programming. They’ll get the message….

  4. The arrogant narcissism of both sides in this pissin’ match is getting to be too much. At this point even if they do come to some sort of agreement I’ve lost so much respect for the current stewards of the NFL that my engagement in the season will be half hearted at best. There isn’t enough room an my *** for all the kissing they’re going to have to do.

  5. I think he accomplished what he wanted to – bringing somewhat outlandish attention to the issue. Anything else is just gravy now.

  6. I disagree. I think the league should absolutely go after him for their expenses. They need to make an example out of him right off the bat to avoid further frivolous claims, which could make the league’s legal expenses significant.

  7. It does not matter if the lawsuit is frivolous. The fact that someone is willing to file the suit is just the tip of the iceburg. What seems frivolous today could prove to be very damaging to all parties in just a few months.

    Note to the NFL and the NFLPA, WAKE UP! You are ruining something special.

  8. as much as we would all like for it not to be, OF COURSE the lawsuit is frivolous. To win any lawsuit, you need damages. So long as the teams refund any money, there are no damages. End of story.

  9. Judge was inclined to toss the suit out on the grounds that there are lots of more productive and rewarding ways to spend your money and time than watching football. Then he remembered they were in Cleveland.

  10. 3octaveFart says:
    Mar 26, 2011 1:31 PM

    Besides, the Browns suck so bad, any jury would only view a lawsuit as “piling on”.

    My guess is that you’re quite the authority on “sucking”.


  12. Hobart, 3octivefart,
    You guys are a riot! I’m a former Dawg Pound season ticket holder. From the Belicheck & Marty eras.
    Didn’t renew because of PSLs.
    The judge ordered a psych evaluation on Lanci because he actually spent money on Browns’ tickets.
    The judge said afterward that the lack of a season actually enhanced the value of the Browns’ season tickets. This is because you can have season tickets without actually having suffer through a Browns season.

  13. you had to see the suit to determine it was bunk?

    Of course you didn’t. So what changed your tune?

    You know full well that it wasn’t the suit that made Lanci the hero. It was the public pressure and attention to the lockout.

    So why has this site gone from praising his clearly frivolous lawsuit to denigrating it?

    The point of the lawsuit isn’t winning in court. Its to gather publicity that the fan has a voice and the fan is the guy getting shafted by Team Player and Team Owner.

    Ken “He Hate Me” Lanci this Bud’s for you.

  14. Ken Lanci….hero to all the tards out there who seem to be under the delusional impression that the players caused this lockout. Owners opted out of the CBA. Fact. Owners are the ones who locked out the players. Fact.

  15. @ernestbynershands
    “The judge said afterward that the lack of a season actually enhanced the value of the Browns’ season tickets.”

    CLASSIC!!! Nice!

  16. airraid77 says:
    Mar 27, 2011 12:15 AM
    toe4 how are you being personally shafted with a lack of football on sundays?

    I’m not personally being shafted in a personal manner. Nobody is saying “toe4, I am doing this to give it to you.” But like everyone else who comes to this website I am a football fan and I would rather watch football on Sunday than do anything else on that day.

    I don’t think the NFL is out to get me personally… I think the NFL is out to get Joe Average’s (my and your) money. Team Owner and Team Player have contrived to gain $9b from we fans by way of our desire to watch football on Sundays rather than mow lawn.

    And now they would rather fight over which rich dude gets to keep our money without giving us the opportunity to enjoy so much as a free agency period.

    If they want to fight over how to divide up my money and attention they ought to be giving me a product to enjoy, which they currently are not doing.

  17. Have to love all the adorable first year law students here shaking their fingers at us peons for not understanding “damages.”

    We get it, Clarence Darrow. But the point of the law suit was always a fan shout-out at the millionaires and billionaires wrecking a game we love, over how much more of OUR money they can divy up.

    As usual, the lawyers suck the life out of anything. Then send a bill.

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