In March, a Texas federal jury found in favor of a group of fans unhappy with their 2011 Super Bowl seats, awarding $75,850 in damages – an award $8,000 less than the trial lawyers' court costs.
On July 10 the NFL argued it was necessary for plaintiffs’ counsel to rack up more than $83,000 in costs on the single claim on which they prevailed, asking the trial court to deny costs all together or cut fees by 90 percent to reflect their minimal success.
Two days after Super Bowl XLV ended in Arlington, Steve Simms and Mike Dolabi filed a class-action lawsuit against the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, and the National Football League on Feb. 8, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas, Dallas Division.
The claim, which sought more than $100 million in damages, grew to encompass seven ticket holders who allege they were either displaced from their seats or had obstructed views during the game.
“For decades, the NFL has routinely claimed that the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of all sporting events worldwide. And for decades, the NFL has made hundreds of millions of dollars by promoting the Super Bowl as the greatest single game of the year culminating in the crowning of the World Champion of the NFL,” the suit states.
“With full knowledge of these facts, the NFL, in tandem with the Dallas Cowboys organization and its owner Jerry Jones, engaged in a failed and reckless attempt to maximize revenue and attendance at Super Bowl XLV and, in the process, betrayed the trust of many of its most loyal fans, including Plaintiffs. Simply put, the NFL placed its own outright greed ahead of the very fans whose support allows the NFL to prosper and further enrich Jones and the other team owners.”
Before the verdict, the NFL had argued the plaintiffs suffered no injury from its alleged conduct, according to court documents.
Following the verdict, which has been appealed by the plaintiffs, the NFL began arguing that the plaintiffs’ incurred costs were a result of their failed attempts to certify a class and establish fraud, not their contract claims.
“Plaintiffs cannot sidestep their minimal success by arguing the contract claims were the ‘heart of the case’ and the fraud claims were ‘ancillary,’” the NFL argues. “As Plaintiffs acknowledge, the NFL argued (correctly) that this was at most a contract case and should be litigated as such.”
The plaintiffs are represented in part by Addison attorney Christopher Ayres.
The NFL is represented by the Haynes and Boone law firm in Dallas.
Case No. 3:11-cv-00248-M