ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should the Mets Leave the Concession Stands at CitiField to an “Even Higher Authority”?

Mets_hat The owners of the Mets have a $300 million Madoff problem, but that hasn’t distracted them from attempting to ban a kosher concession stand from selling food at CitiField during the Sabbath. 

Kosher Sports has a 10-year contract to sell hot dogs at the stadium and it sued the Mets last summer after being told it could not operate on Friday nights and Saturdays.  In August, Judge Jack Weinstein ordered the Mets to stop banning the company’s sale of food during the Sabbath.  At the time, he said with a smile, “I cannot get involved in (a dispute) over rabbinical law.”

Perhaps that is why the case ended up before Magistrate Judge Andrew Carter.  But, he recused himself earlier this week because a Kosher Sports lawyer spotted him wearing a Mets hat outside the courthouse.

I imagine that this is a dispute about what the word “kosher” means in the 10-year contract.  The Mets say the food isn’t “kosher” if the stand operates during the Sabbath.  Kosher Sports begs to differ, and (likely) adds that the contract does not expressly restrict Sabbath sales.  What’s the answer?  What’s “kosher”?  Apparently, whether a purveyor can sell food on the Sabbath and retain kashrut status is very complicated under Jewish Law.  Some won’t allow it at all; some will allow it with particular conventions followed (conventions which are difficult to follow in a stadium on a Saturday because they require proper supervision and the qualified supervisors are prevented from stopping by on the Sabbath).

No wonder Judge Weinstein did not want to get involved, there’s an even higher authority involved in this dispute:

Certainly, this could be handled with more precise contract drafting in the future.  Though, the inability to operate a concession stand on Friday nights and Saturdays (when, I imagine, the stadium has the highest turnout for games), could make it a losing proposition.  Which, in the end, could mean no kosher option at all (whatever that means).

[Meredith R. Miller]

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