Both sides are declaring victory in the Super Bowl seat lawsuit, which generated a verdict on Thursday of $76,000 for seven plaintiffs.
“This is nothing short of a blowout,” attorney for the plaintiffs Michael Avenatti said, via Reuters. “Any attempt by the NFL to claim victory in this case is like putting lipstick on a pig.”
The NFL nevertheless has removed the cap and spun the dial.
“We have always accepted responsibility for the problem our fans experienced at Super Bowl XLV and have genuinely tried to compensate those fans for their losses and inconvenience,” the NFL said in a statement. “We are pleased by the jury’s verdict, which is consistent with our offers and that intent.”
At risk of being labeled a shill for the NFL (because we never criticize or complain about the NFL in any way), the verdict feels like a big win for the league because the verdict was on the wrong side (from the perspective of the plaintiff) of six figures.
Damages were awarded only for breach of contract, a theory that limits recovery to actual, out-of-pocket losses. The so-called “tort” claims, which would have allowed the jury to award compensation for annoyance and inconvenience and possibly punitive damages failed, with most tort claims dismissed before trial and two claims for fraud rejected by the jury.
The outcome for the seven plaintiffs whose cases were presented in the first of what will be several trials hardly seems to be a blowout. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, five of the seven plaintiffs got less at trial than they were seeking in damages. One of the plaintiffs, for example, was offered $10,000 four years ago. At trial, he got $7,957.
The process is hardly over. The president of the seating contractor who suggested to ESPN.com that he was pressured by the NFL to give favorable testimony will be testifying again soon regarding those comments, and there are more than 200 remaining plaintiffs, with trials continuing this fall at the rate of 15 plaintiffs per case.