NEW ORLEANS – A federal appeals court held up the dismissed claims of a district judge's ruling in cutting down claims of former Super Bowl attendees looking to for additional relief for being assigned seats that either opened up late, offered obstructed views or were reassigned.
The plaintiffs were looking to have their class action affirmed in court, along with dragging Jerry Jones and his NFL Cowboys back into the case a judge determined the contract complaints were only between the plaintiffs and the NFL.
The district court also complied with the NFL's request for summary judgment, so the plaintiffs sought to have that overturned in their appeal.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs on all three issues dismissing the Cowboys and fraud charges, upholding summary judgement and continuing to deny the possibility of a class action.
The issues all stemmed from Super Bowl XLV, which was hosted at Cowboys stadium. The stadium was about a year and a half old at the time, but the Cowboys promised they could build in the temporary seating to accommodate the marquee event.
Up until the last moment, companies contracted by the Cowboys worked to add roughly 13,000 additional seats to a stadium that comfortably seats 80,000 for football games. That effort saw approximately 103,000 spectators seated at the game between the Steelers and Packers.
However, about 400 ticket holders weren't able to be seated. About 2,000 were delayed in getting to their seats and about 850 ticket holders had to be relocated.
And while a jury awarded the seven plaintiffs roughly $76,000 for breach of contract in a related suit, as a result of the incident, it refused to convict the NFL of fraud as was asserted in the lawsuit.
The NFL apologized to the fans for the seating debacle. And after the original verdict, the league's lead lawyer, Thad Behrens, insisted that the NFL never tried to shift blame away from itself.
“The NFL has always accepted responsibility for the problems that were experienced by some of its fans at Super Bowl XLV and has attempted from the beginning to compensate them for their genuinely received losses and inconvenience,” Behrens said in a statement.
However, the plaintiffs asserted that the Cowboys were also culpable and so they petitioned the 5th District Court of Appeals.
The appeals court declined to acknowledge class actions formed by three groups of fans who felt their Super Bowl experience was less enjoyable than expected: those who were displaced, those who were delayed and those who had an obstructed view of the field of the video board.
While they were unified in feeling they didn't get the experience they bargained for, the court reasoned that individual issues predominated class complaints.
The court dismissed the complaint against the Cowboys, reasoning that the plaintiffs hadn't submitted enough evidence to prove the organization was anything more than a third-party vendor for an NFL event.
As for the plaintiffs demand for a jury trial, the court argued that the defendants had the right to summary judgement since there was a lack of evidence the NFL attempted to defraud the ticket holders.
Summary judgement was appropriate in this a case because there was " “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” the decision stated, quoting the Summary Judgement section of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.