Louisiana Supreme Court pauses Rams-Saints lawsuit

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Good news, NFL: Commissioner Roger Goodell won’t have to testify in September. Bad news, NFL: Goodell may still have to testify.

Via the Associated Press, the Louisiana Supreme Court has stayed the lawsuit arising from the Rams-Saints NFC Championship game while it considers whether to allow the case to proceed. This decision pauses the “discovery” process, which had called for sworn testimony of Goodell and three game officials to happen next month.

The ruling makes practical sense. Why force Goodell and others to testify if the case ultimately is thrown out by the Louisiana Supreme Court? It also gives the court time to consider the broader question of the viability of the case.

If the case is deemed to be viable, the depositions of Goodell and others will occur. If the case is determined to not be viable, the lawsuit will end.

So the question now becomes whether the case will proceed. And the question presented by the case is intriguing.

The NFL argues that spectators never should be able to sue over the outcome of a sporting event, even if blatant errors occur in the application of the rules. The plaintiffs argue that, essentially, the fix was in — that the NFL wanted the Rams to advance to the Super Bowl because of their presence in the L.A. market.

To dismiss the case, the Louisiana Supreme Court will have to decide that a paying customer has no standing under any circumstances to challenge the outcome of a sporting event even if it turns out that the fix was indeed in. If that’s the case, paying customers to sporting events that supposedly are determined based on skill, ability, and occasional luck will have no recourse even in those cases where the powers-that-be desire a certain outcome and misapply the rules in order to achieve it.

The notion that there can be no recourse of any kind in such situations gives those who stage sporting events a license to rig the result without the potential for civil liability. As legalized gambling proliferates, that may not be an acceptable conclusion.

Still, a disgruntled season-ticket holder and/or gambler shouldn’t have the ability to engage in a fishing expedition for evidence of foul play without something to suggest that foul play actually happened. In this specific case, the argument seems to be that the blatant failure to apply the rules to the most important and consequential play of the game suggests that an error of that nature doesn’t happen in the absence of corruption.

So maybe, under the specific facts of this case, there’s enough evidence based on the failed to call pass intererence (or illegal hit on a defenseless receiver) to permit the plaintiffs to try to develop evidence to show that it wasn’t simply an accident.

However it plays out, the litigation underscores the importance of taking meaningful steps to prevent blatant mistakes from happening. The NFL has done that, with a solution (replay review of pass interference) that arguably sweeps much farther than it needed to in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Still, the fix that was made by the NFL doesn’t necessarily mean that the fix wasn’t in. The Louisiana Supreme Court will eventually determine whether the plaintiffs will secure a chance to prove that it was, by gathering evidence and aggressively questioning Goodell and others.

11 responses to “Louisiana Supreme Court pauses Rams-Saints lawsuit

  1. Should a season ticket holder be able to sue a team that is “tanking” because they are not making an earnest effort to win? Or sue because they hold players out to avoid injury after clinching a division or bye? Or because a coach didn’t manage the clock properly at the end of a game and left the other team enough time to tie or win? Or a fantasy player sue because the game plan was pass heavy and his runningback did not get enough carries or runs on goalline situations? See how the slope gets slippery?

  2. If the court decides to allow the case to proceed, I’ll be right behind it with my own case stating the Referees did not call the face masking on Goff as he tried to score inside the Saints 5-yard line which would have set the Rams up first and goal around the 2. The Rams actually ended up settling for a field goal on the drive but with a new 4-down series from inside the 2 they most likely would have scored a touchdown over the next 4-plays which would have resulted in a 4-point swing in the scoring. With those additional 4-points, the Rams wouldn’t have needed overtime to win the game. My lawsuit will be next.

  3. People please, if they were gonna rig a game they wouldn’t be so stupid and blatant about it, let alone at the worst most obvious point in the game. Now get over it and get a life, losers.

  4. So those two “officials” both decided before that play that this was the time to earn their payoff. SMDH. They game planned to ensure that the ‘aints wouldn’t make the super bowl by blowing that call. And never mind the glaring fact that Breesy choked yet again by throwing an interception in OT to essentially lose the game. Now how did the “officials” force him to do that?????????????????????????

  5. Keep it going. It’s a blast watching the Saints fans humiliate themselves. Priceless.

  6. It’s one or two Saints fans with one being a lawyer that are bringing this case forward. Stop acting like its every Saints fan… sheesh

  7. Breesy choked yet again by throwing an interception in OT to essentially lose the game.
    Brees was punched in the facemask on the OT INT.. Another blatant no-call.. plus the California refs allowed Mike Thomas to get mugged all game long

  8. Don’t they have way more important issues to work on the for the people of La. than this misadventure and complete waste of tax payers money?

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