On Thursday, lawyer Michael Avenatti filed a nationwide class action aimed at obtaining full and complete compensation for all losses incurred by fans who attended last Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game, which was canceled due to mishandled preparation of the field. On Monday, Avenatti sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell with a unique settlement offer.
Avenatti is willing to resolve the case now, for payment of $450 to each person who held a ticket to the game. The amount includes no fees for the lawyers, along with a commitment from Avenatti that no fees will be taken from the settlement amount or otherwise sought from the NFL or the Hall of Fame. Avenatti estimates that the actual expenses to attend the game averaged more than $700 per ticketholder.
With a capacity of 22,375, that’s a total payout of just over $10 million. Appearing last week on PFT Live, Avenatti said that the league already has spent more than $20 million to defend itself in the Super Bowl XLV ticket fiasco litigation.
“As shown by the above offer,” Avenatti writes in the letter, a copy of which PFT has obtained, “the fans are not seeking ‘jackpot justice’ or a lottery ticket as a result of what happened. They merely want to get a significant amount of their hard-earned money back.”
The offer remains open until 12:01 p.m. ET on Friday, August 19. Avenatti vows that, if the dispute isn’t resolved by then, the case will be litigated to conclusion, with all damages and fees sought.
It’s a smart P.R. move for Avenatti and his clients. If the NFL rejects the offer, Avenatti and his clients will be able to proceed aggressively, shrugging and pointing to the August 15 letter if anyone ever complains that they are overreaching.
Should the NFL accept the offer? Ultimately, the NFL’s total bill in defending itself against this case will likely surpass $10 million. But a quick and easy settlement in this case may encourage others with grievances against the league to sue, and that’s not the kind of precedent any large business likes to establish.
Besides, how will the lawyers representing the NFL ever make their money if the NFL doesn’t park a gigantic cash cow in the well-marbled lobby of the firm’s D.C. and/or New York offices?