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Archive for March, 2009

New York Jets Fans’ Suit Thrown Out of Federal Court

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Carl Mayer

Carl Mayer

Many NFL football fans have been disappointed in their team’s performance at one point or another.  That doesn’t mean that said fans should be able to go out and sue their team or other teams for the conduct of a teams personnel or coaching staff for actions not causing actual damages to fans.  One New York Jets Fan thought differently.  Carl Mayer, a Jets season ticket holder and solo attorney from Princeton N.J. thought it would be a good idea to sue New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and the NFL over the infamous taping of Jets signals by the Patriots back on September 9, 2007.

As a young lawyer I thought to myself what kind of lawyer would even consider taking a case that seems impossible to win.  For a plaintiff to win a case, they must suffer some sort of damages.  I don’t see how Mayer could have incurred any kind of damages simply from being a fan of a NFL team that was cheated against.  Luckily for Mayer, he is a solo attorney himself and can incur the financial responsibility of bringing a case in federal court himself.  He also cannot get anybody else in trouble for bringing a frivolous claim in which the courts may impose sanctions against an attorney if they deem proper. 

Mayer claimed the videotaping “violated the contractual expectations and rights of New York Jets ticket-holders who fully anticipated and contracted for a ticket to an honest match played in compliance with all laws, regulations and NFL rules.”  Mayer also claimed tortuous interference with contractual relations and violations of the state Consumer Fraud Act, Deceptive Business Practices Act and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  Mayer sought statutory, punitive and compensatory damages, restitution, equitable relief and attorneys’ fees on behalf of fellow season ticket-holders.

It is not the best time to be a lawyer these days with the economy in shambles, but Mr. Mayer must have had way too much time on his hands.  The costs of bringing such a case and lost income due to time spent on this case far exceeds any damages (the costs of season tickets) that he could expect to receive.  The Federal Court ruled that the seller of tickets to an entertainment event “does not contract to provide the spectacle, only to license the plaintiff to enter and view whatever event transpires.”

If this suit were allowed to continue fans would be suing their teams for every bone head personnel or coaching mistake that occurred on a field or court in any sport.  The legal Court dockets are backed up with cases that actually matter; I really hope that Mr. Mayer does not appeal this case.  If a fan is not interested in a team or league don’t go to the games or watch on T.V. That is a much easier and economical solution to filing a federal lawsuit. 

NFL Discipline Policy Challenged

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

nfl1Sports attorney David Cornwell is attempting to change the way the NFL hands down discipline to NFL players who breach the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The NFL, unlike the NBA or MLB has a system in place in which discipline handed down by the commissioner may not be challenged.  Cornwell is arguing that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s rulings should be able to be appealed to an outside arbitrator who will make a binding ruling.  Any new discipline policies must be included in the new CBA as the NFL has opted out of the current CBA agreement which expires at the end of the 2010 season.

NFL players would definitely benefit from having a new system in place in which they could appeal commissioner rulings.  The hard part will be trying to get the NFL to agree to the changes so that they can be included in the new NFL CBA.  For the new policy to be included in the new CBA the NFL Players Association will have to make some concessions and it should be noted that if an agreement is not reached by the end of the 2009 season, then the 2010 season will have no salary cap.  This means that owners would be free to overspend on players and NFL athletes would be the beneficiaries.  It would be most beneficial to the players association to hold out until the end of the 2010 season to reach an agreement on a new NFL CBA.  However the NFLPA could use the new disciplinary policy as a bargaining chip to getting a deal done before the end of 2009.  For instance they could say in exchange for us agreeing to a new CBA early, you have to include a new disciplinary policy.

I would look to see this policy being implemented in the new CBA in 2011 since the players association has a big incentive not to come to terms until after the 2010 season is finished due to the lack of a salary cap.


Entertainment Venues May Be Forced To Abandon Pat Down Searches at Events

Friday, March 6th, 2009

pat-down2I have never really understood the purpose of the entertainment venue pat down and search.  I am all for safety, but if searches are going to be conducted, they should be done right.  Not using metal detectors and searching every purse and bag only holds up lines to get into venues and the majority of searches, especially at sporting events is a waste of time.  If a person really wants to sneak in a weapon it’s not hard, simply stick the weapon down ones pants.  Last I checked full body cavity searches aren’t part of the entertainment experience, well not yet anyways.

In San Francisco a couple of 49er fans have had enough and sued the 49ers.  The fans claim that the pat down searches violate their right to privacy.  The California Supreme Court ruled last week that such a search may violate a person’s right to privacy.  The case was remanded back to the California Superior Court due to an insufficient record.  The lower court must determine whether the search measures put in place have a specific purpose and whether that purpose in narrowly tailored, meaning the searches must be less intrusive than alternatives.

The NFL instituted a pat down search policy in 2005 which could be in jeopardy.  I am somebody who on rare occasions carried out similar search policies while working for the NBA’s Seattle Sonics and I can tell you that these policies are unjustified, carried out half assed, and cause fans to get restless if they are subjected to waiting in long lines due to searches after a game has started.  In some cases while I was working, the policies were completely abandoned right before tipoff due to the long lines and complaints.  A professional franchise doesn’t want to risk losing season ticket holders due to the searches so they may cave in or often times most of the searches are being conducted by temp event staff workers who don’t feel like getting yelled at by fans.

If the NFL or any other entertainment venues wants to conduct searches, they should use metal detectors.  Metal detectors are more effective in identifying weapons, less intrusive, and won’t hold up lines during events.  In the 49er case the team will argue that the NFL policies are necessary in order to assure safety, but they may have trouble in arguing that the policies are being carried out in the least intrusive manner.  The issue will be whether a less intrusive manner such as metal detectors would cause a substantial burden on the team.  A substantial burden may come in the form of finances and if it a less intrusive policy costs a lot more money, then it may not be viable.  The ruling in this case will affect all entertainment venues nationwide.  You better believe that all major sports and entertainment organizations will be paying very close attention as to the result of this case.


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