UPDATE: NFL Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Controversial No-Call
On February 27, 2019, the group of New Orleans Saints season ticket holders dropped their lawsuit against the NFL.
On February 12, 2018, the NFL moved to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a group of New Orleans Saints season ticket holders over the controversial no-call in the fourth quarter of the NFC championship game. As you recall, a group of New Orleans Saints season ticket holders sued the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell with the goal of reversing their overtime playoff loss in the 2019 NFC championship game. According to their suit, Saints fans were “left bereft and with no faith in the National Football League for fairness despite the leagues own rules to correct such errors, along with emotional anguish, monetary loss for season ticket holders, who purchased tickets with the presumption of integrity and fairness.” The Saints season ticket holders requested that Roger Goodell use his power to replay the final 1 minute, 49 seconds of regulation of the NFC Championship Game.
Seeing as Super Bowl LII has already been played, it seems that the Saints season ticket holders’ lawsuit is all but mute. However, the NFL officially moved to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the Saints season ticket holders damages claims lack standing. According to the memorandum, “ticketholders and fans do not have standing to assert claims for damages allegedly arising from the conduct or quality of the sporting event as to which they were spectators (whether ticketed or not).” Further, the NFL claims that the Saints season ticket holders’ lack standing because, at its essence, the fans “are dissatisfied with the administration of and outcome of that game;” however, “ticketholders have a limited set of claims extending from their status as ticketholders.”
The NFL cited one case, Mayer v. Belichick, which appears to end the dispute. According to Mayer v. Belichick, “players often commit intentional rule infractions in order to obtain an advantage over the course of the game. For instance, a football player may purposefully commit pass interference or a ‘delay of game.’ Such infractions, if not called by the referees, may even change the outcome of the game itself. At least in this specific context, it is not the role of judges and juries to be second-guessing the decision taken by a professional sports league purportedly enforcing its own rules. In fact, we generally lack the knowledge, experience, and tools in which to engage in such an inquiry.” However, Mayer v. Belichick did not leave the then upset New York Jets fans without recourse. According to the court in Mayer v. Belichick, “fans could speak out against the [defendant] their coach, and the NFL itself. In fact, they could even go so far as to refuse to purchase tickets or NFL-related merchandise … [h]owever, the one thing they cannot do is bring a legal action in a court of law.”