The National Football League might want to lead the charge for tort reform, considering all the silly lawsuits it has to deal with these days.
A New Jersey man is suing the NFL for failing to release enough Super Bowl tickets to the public, thus driving up the price. The class-action lawsuit alleges that the league violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by dividing the tickets among itself, its 32 member teams and the two host teams, releasing just 1 percent of the tickets for sale at face value. Fans were forced to turn to scalpers and resellers, paying a huge markup for tickets that were already prohibitively expensive. Josh Finkelman, who filed the suit in federal court on Monday, says he paid $4,000 for a pair of tickets. He seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and attorneys' fees.
The NFL told the Associated Press that it is reviewing the lawsuit and that 75 percent of the tickets were released to the teams, which made them available to the public through lotteries. The suit claims that the NFL actually gave most of the tickets to sponsors, partners and "other league insiders," and that the teams actively sold them to scalpers.
Turns out, whining about the high price of admission to the biggest sporting event of the year is just the tip of the litigious iceberg. A Pittsburgh Steelers fan is also suing the NFL because his team didn't make the playoffs. Daniel L. Spuck contends that the San Diego Chargers did not legitimately earn their postseason spot because of a missed call in their regular-season-ending win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which propelled them to the Wild Card round. The officials failed to call an illegal alignment formation against the Chargers that would have allowed the Chiefs to rekick a missed field goal. If Kansas City had made that field goal, they would have won the game and Pittsburgh would have moved on to the playoffs.
The fan seeks a temporary emergency injunction in which the NFL would suspend the playoffs for at least a week to allow the Chiefs kicker to retry the field goal or to host a one-shot play-in game between the Steelers and Chargers to decide who deserves that final Wild Card spot -- because if this doesn't count as an emergency, what does? (Do note that the suit was filed through inmate mail from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.)
The NFL doesn't seem too worried that it'll be forced to postpone its postseason. "Litigation is often part of any business -- whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a sports league," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mail. "We have a legal department that handles these suits."
I'm guessing that legal department is a bit busy these days to give much consideration to such frivolous claims.