Class action filed in Ohio over Hall of Fame Non-Game

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This year’s Hall of Fame Game will be remembered much longer than any of its predecessors that actually were played.

A quartet of customers have filed a class action against the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (technically known as “National Football Museum, Inc.”) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The class representatives include Matthew Crabb, a disabled Iraq veteran who lives in Indiana, and Tiffany Ratcliff, a Virginia resident whose husband took leave from the U.S. Navy to attend the game with her. The other class representatives, Alan Biland and Carmelo Treviso, traveled to the game from Wisconsin.

Beyond the issue of the game cancellation, the lawsuit also focuses on a Super Bowl XLV-esque failure to install sufficient seating for the game, resulting in Ratcliff and others not having seats to go along with their tickets.

The complaint contends that the problem that led to the cancellation of the game arose from the late removal of decking from the playing surface, which caused delayed painting of the end zone lettering and midfield logo. When the grounds crew noticed the paint wasn’t drying quickly enough, they applied heat to the paint. That resulted in the melting of the rubber pellets in the FieldTurf, creating the “congealed” areas on the playing surface.

Roughly 2.5 hours before kickoff, the crew applied a substance aimed at resolving the problem. The only problem? An employee of the Packers noticed that the label on the product warns that it burns skin on contact.

The complaint alleges that the Hall of Fame/NFL didn’t tell the customers about the cancellation of the game until 8:00 p.m. ET, at least 80 minutes after the decision was made to pull the plug. During that time, fans spent money on food and other items in the stadium were the game ultimately wasn’t played.

The lawsuit seeks recovery of out-of-pocket costs for tickets, which for some fans may have exceeded the face value of the tickets; lodging and travel expenses; costs associated with items purchased on the day of the game, including items purchased after the game had been cancelled but before the fans were told about the move; and lost employment hours for fans who took time off to attend the game.

For now, the lawsuit contains only a claim for breach of contract. Further legal theories could be added, based on the information obtained during the discovery process.

Even if the case isn’t certified to proceed as a class action, there will be plenty of claims pursued individually.

“Thus far, we have been retained by fans who travelled from 14 different states,” Avenatti told PFT.

To date, the Hall of Fame has offered only to reimburse fans for the face value of tickets purchased to the game.

“NFL & Roger Bonaparte would rather pay their lawyers millions than pay fans what they deserve,” Avenatti added on Twitter. “$14B in rev and $45M/yr in comp isn’t enough? . . . Hard working people and vets lose $$$ attending the HOF game and the NFL and Roger Bonaparte say ‘let them eat cake’! Pure greed. Not right.”

The Super Bowl XLV litigation didn’t get much media or fan attention, in the grand scheme of the endless NFL news cycle. Since then, however, public opinion has shifted away from the league office in a significant way, punctuated by acrimony arising from the lockout, the Saints bounty scandal, the Ray Rice incident, and #DeflateGate. This time around, the NFL could be facing much greater pressure to make things right by fully and completely compensating those who showed up for a game that wasn’t played not due to an act of God but as a result of incompetence.

59 responses to “Class action filed in Ohio over Hall of Fame Non-Game

  1. I hate lawyers but in this case the NFL is getting their just desserts. Not for anything else than this. I have no other animosity toward the NFL but they F’d up this one.

  2. I also took leave from the Navy to attend and was annoyed with the decision, but suing is ridiculous!!!

  3. I do not believe in suing at all for this but the NFL should have refunded their ticket and given an extra 200 dollars to each ticket stub they received. Or maybe offered a ticket to any Regular season game they may want to go in the future on top of the refund… something.

  4. I find it a little hard to believe that people would make such sacrifices to see a pre-season game played almost entirely by scrubs and backups. The only restitution the NFL should be required to make is refunding the purchase price of the tickets, which I believe they have already done.

  5. If they want to give me something more than the face-value cost of my tickets ($75 ea.), I’ll take it, but the game itself honestly wasn’t the main reason why I travelled all the way from California to Canton for the weekend.

  6. Taking this lawsuit the class action route only means the plaintiffs will see far less of a payout than they are hoping for. The lawyers will be paid before any plaintiff gets their share and it will probably end up being less than what they spent on tickets anyway after the lawyer is paid.

  7. A money-grabbing lawyer called the NFL greedy. How ironic. If the lawyer is so concerned for the people he’s representing, they should ask him if he’s going to do this pro bono. No chance of that happening.

  8. What a ridiculous lawsuit. Lost wages? Sorry, the courts will always call out a reasonable risk the game isn’t played. Fans who bought tickets directly from the venue will get refunds for that amount. Travel and food? No. Reimbursement not happening. The NFL still put on a show with everything EXCEPT the game that didn’t count. Photo Ops, speeches, music…all that was there. Travel? That’s as dumb as reimbursement for lost wages. Probably a $50 voucher for each fan who files a claim is the most you can expect. Plus a hearty “We’re sorry for the inconvenience…ya’ll come back next year okay?”

  9. Greed will be the downfall of the NFL…..good to see fans are fighting back, it always helps when a couple of class action lawyers are available to chase them around…..any company that not only keeps a guy like Goodell employed, after the nonsense he’s pulled over the yrs but to pay him 45 million a yr to do it tells you a lot…..

  10. So, you want a refund for ALL of your expenses to a cancelled, meaningless PRESEASON game?!?!? Get the heck out of here! You’ll get a full refund of the ticket price but you really want to get reimbursed for taking time off and travelling for a PRESEASON game? A game in which many starters will sit out entirely??!!? Sorry, but you’re not good with money or vacation time and deserve less of both… Now when it comes to selling nonexistent seats at the freaking Super Bowl, I hope the NFL and Jerrah get taken to the cleaners!

  11. I was late for an appointment the other day because a street was blocked off for construction. Can I sue somebody? Oh I almost forgot. The lights went out at a restaurant I was eating at a few years back. It ended up being kind of a fun night. Can I sue someone anyway? Gosh I might just quit my job and live off the fat of the land. Everyone should. Would this make America great, if everyone just quit working and started suing anyone that we thought had a few bucks?

  12. The NFL should just make that game free, and give everyone that attends a voucher for a free hot dog and a coke.

    Oh, and make them sign a waiver that if a game is cancelled due to League incompetence, or any other reason, the NFL is not responsible for reimbursing any travel or lodging expenses.

    Problem solved.

  13. If the NFL had offered something (free Hoodie, jersey of you choice, a bag, and a hat) then few fans would sue.
    They’d be annoyed, but $150 in free merchandise would appease most of them, and probably sway a jury.

  14. The problem isn’t that the game wasn’t played. I think most of them are concerned and ticked that they cancelled the game and then didn’t tell anyone to keep people in the seats buying stuff instead of clearing out and heading home.

    They basically milked the fans for food at the stadium while with holding the important information that they aren’t going to play.

  15. This is what’s wrong with America and the comments section only proves it more.

    Suing because a game was cancelled? You got a refund of the face value of the ticket, and I am sure the ticket itself even details the rights of the ticket holder on the back (although I do not have a HOF game preseason ticket in my possession.)

    Every other NFL game ticket has the same disclaimers. When you buy a ticket you will be reimbursed for the face value of the ticket if the game is not played.

    Class action? Disgusting!

  16. A history lesson might be in order for the lawyer. Marie Antoinette (the wife of Louis XVI) is rumored to have spoken “let them eat cake”. It was these monarchs who were overthrown in the revolution and leadership assumed by Napolean Bonaparte. So it wasn’t Bonaparte who said this.
    Just like the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.

  17. Do Goodell and the owners realize that many of the fans they hurt aren’t silver spoon fed pampered people. Many have made incredible sacrifices for our country and our citizens and have had a very demanding life. When I see the way they treat disabled veterans it’s very difficult for me to take the NFL seriously when they put on pre-game and half time shows honoring our military.

  18. stairwayto7 says:
    Aug 11, 2016 3:34 PM

    However Packer fan spend $250 on a piece of paper saying they are owners and they think that wasn’t a rip off.


    And you’re probably one of those dorks who spend $299 on a jersey of your favorite player. Beat it nerd!

  19. I’m wondering why this place which is very near another place that celebrates the history of football which started on natural and real turf is now using artificial turf?
    That would be like replacing baseball with kickball at a celebrated annual baseball game in Cooperstown NY.
    Something just doesn’t add up here.

  20. Wow! I’m so glad I’m not that dumb to travel and waste my time and money on a meaningless game that didn’t happen.

    And what kind of sick and butt hurt Packers fans are going to be disappointed? Do they want to see yet another star Packers player get hurt in this and miss the season yet again?
    They should rejoice and be grateful that the Pack is now back down to the normal 4 stupid preseason games instead.

  21. bert1913 says:
    Aug 11, 2016 5:26 PM

    billionaire owners can pay for this lawsuit with the change in their pockets
    Yes, billionaire owners could pay for it, but they didn’t get to be billionaires by paying for stuff like this. Any of these costs will be passed down to the fans. So a lawyer makes you think you’re getting something from the league, but you’re really just taking it out of the pockets of future ticket buyers, which is basically the man in the mirror. But the lawyers sure are getting rich. They just picked your pocket and you helped them.

  22. ““NFL & Roger Bonaparte would rather pay their lawyers millions than pay fans what they deserve,” Avenatti added on Twitter. “$14B in rev and $45M/yr in comp isn’t enough? . . . ”


    just like they’d rather pay Wells millions of dollars than read up on temperature and its effect on air pressure.

    They constantly paint their idiotic selves into corners then lie, cheat and money their way out.

    The NFL will eat itself

  23. gtrav says:
    Aug 11, 2016 3:29 PM
    good…hope this costs the NFL some money after how they’ve been taking more and mre advantage of its fans


    I agree…but you know they’d just raise ticket prices so that they don’t notice a drop in profits.

  24. This isn’t a problem with only the NFL, but every business now a days. If any consumer is late, they get whacked with a fee. When companies knowingly overbook or don’t maintain, the consumer gets a “by golly, we sure are sorry. no you can’t have your lost money back.”

  25. Was this thing filed in a real court of law, the NFL’s kangaroo court, or one of the courts that Roger has on retainer?

  26. The lawsuit, which was filed at the United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, seeks more than $5 million in damages from the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


    Guess who is going to all them millions when the suit gets settled.

  27. Word out of France is that the descendents of Napolean Bonaparte are filing a suit against Mrrs. Crabb, Ratcliff, Biland and Treviso for defamation of character.

  28. Wow given the sense of fairness indicated in these comments its no wonder that a political party in this country can run an unqualified, self-centered, petty, moronic bully for President.

  29. It doesnt matter that this was a preseason game. Even if it was a regular season game, the NFL owes no more than the ticket value. If you ordered some hot dogs, drinks, and burgers at the game, then you got to have dinner. Did you eat it? Then you got what you paid for. However far you traveled, whatever hotel you rented, whatever else you did had nothing to do with what the NFL was offering which was a ticket to the game. If it was halfway around the world that you traveled, that is your call if you traveled that distance. MLB games get called off all the time, do you ever hear the fans demanding hotels room fees and other expenses back? This is what is wrong with spoiled america. You are responsible for what you do and the chances you take. The NFL is giving a refund for the product you did not get and that is all they owe.

  30. Settle out of court – fast.

    Get it behind you, issue public apologies to all the fans and offer to refund their ticket price.

    This was a spectacular example of incompetence and the NFL does NOT want memories like that to linger.

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