Three days removed from the Hall of Fame Non-Game, the first lawsuit arising from the debacle is less than three days away.
Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who filed suit five years ago as a result of the Super Bowl XLV tickets-but-no-seats fiasco, said on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio that litigation will be pursued by Friday.
The specific venue for the initiation of the process and the legal theories to be pursued have not been finalized. It’s possible, Avenatti explained, that tort-type claims could be included, based on the alleged negligence that caused the game to not be played. Typically, tort claims unlock a broader range of available compensation than claims based on alleged breaches of contract. Depending on the level of misconduct, tort claims also raise the possibility of punitive damages.
While the Super Bowl XLV case ultimately had roughly 150 plaintiffs, Avenatti said that his latest assault on the NFL could include every fan who made the trip to the stadium in Canton, no matter how long or far they came. That could result in more than 22,000 claims.
For now, neither the NFL nor the Hall of Fame have indicated a willingness to offer more than a refund of ticket prices. This could change, once the lawsuit is filed. Alternatively, the NFL could choose to hunker down and fight.
Fighting won’t be cheap. Avenatti said on PFT Live that the league has spent $20 million defending against the Super Bowl XLV cases. That $20 million could have been used to settle those cases, several times over. For the new case, it remains to be season whether the league’s lawyers will be enriched, whether its customers will be financially made whole, or both.