As expected, the NFL did not accept the offer to settle the Hall of Fame Game lawsuit for payment of $450 per customer. The offer, made Monday, expired at 12:01 p.m. ET on Friday.
“Unfortunately, [Commissioner Roger] Goodell and the NFL have once again demonstrated that they have little to no use for the fans that actually make the league possible,” lawyer Michael Avenatti said in a statement issued to PFT. “These are the same fans that pay Goodell’s $45 million per year salary and have enriched the owners on average over $1 billion per franchise over the last five years. The game was cancelled due to gross incompetence — not some weather event or something outside of the control of the league and the Hall of Fame.
“We offered an incredibly reasonable $450 per fan despite the fact that fans on average paid much more than that to go to the game and can seek damages under the law far in excess of $450. Goodell and the NFL instead would rather pay their lawyers millions. We have been left with no choice but to fully litigate the case and make the 22,000-plus fans whole. We especially look forward to reviewing various text messages that we believe will show a conscious disregard for the fans and an effort to defraud them by purposely failing to timely inform them the game had been cancelled with the hope they would spend more money in the hours leading up to the scheduled kickoff.”
The lawsuit has prompted the Hall of Fame to announce an enhanced refund policy that increases compensation beyond the face value of tickets, in exchange for a release of all legal claims. Still, it’s possible the NFL will spend much more than the $10 million or so that the settlement would have cost by choosing to defend the lawsuit on its merits.
Avenatti has instructed Goodell and Hall of Fame President David Baker to preserve their cell phones and other electronic evidence, citing a reason to believe incriminating text messages were generated regarding a conscious decision not to tell customers that the game had been canceled. That could result in an amendment of the current lawsuit to include a claim that fans were deliberately misled so that they would stay in the stadium and buy overpriced food, beer, programs, T-shirts, and other stuff.