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NFL Must Face Fraud Claims in 2011 Super Bowl Seating Lawsuit

The National Football League must defend fraud claims brought by fans whose seats had obstructed views at the 2011 Super Bowl Game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn yesterday threw out all claims against the Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones, ruling that a Super Bowl game ticket is “a contract between the NFL and a ticket purchaser.”

Claims of fraudulent inducement against the NFL will go forward under the judge’s ruling for fans who had seats with obstructed views of the field, according to the ruling. If the plaintiffs’ allegations are proven, the judge wrote, “they had no way of knowing that their tickets had obstructed views until they arrived at the stadium.”

There are about 4,000 fans who had obstructed views of the NFL title game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, said Michael Avenatti of Eagan Avenatti LLP, lead counsel for the ticketholders.

“The NFL hasn’t offered a settlement to a single fan who had an obstructed view,” Avenatti said in an interview.

Breach of Contract

The judge previously ruled that breach of contract claims can proceed against the NFL over the obstructed seats and other seating troubles, Avenatti said. Those include about 475 ticketholders who had to watch the game on video screens. A group of 2,821 fans who were given new seats or kept waiting outside the stadium can also pursue their claims against the NFL, he said.

Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said in a statement that the league is pleased the judge dismissed most of the claims in the lawsuit against the league and all claims against the Cowboys.

Lynn threw out all claims brought on behalf of those fans who were eligible for the NFL’s voluntary reimbursement offers except for the breach of contract claim, he said.

“We continue to believe that the offers made to these ticketholders meet or exceed what they could be entitled to under the law,” McCarthy said. “In fact, the vast majority of these fans accepted the NFL’s offers long ago.”

The case is Simms v. Jones, 3:11-cv-00248, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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