Friday, September 6, 2019

The NFL Today

The Louisiana Supreme Court has held that unhappy fans cannot sue a sports league 

Plaintiffs, who allege they are New Orleans Saints season ticket holders and who attended the NFC Championship game,filed the instant suit against the National Football League, its commissioner and certain officials (collectively referred to hereinafter as “NFL”) based on actions which occurred during the 2019 NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged the NFL and the game officials engaged in a conspiracy and committed fraud and deceptive trade practices “against Petitioners as season ticket holders and observers of the aforesaid game” entitling them to damages.

The NFL responded by filing a peremptory exception raising the objection of no right of action. In support of its exception, the NFL argued plaintiffs were not within the class of people with enforceable rights regarding the outcome of the administration of the rules in a particular game. According to the NFL, plaintiffs’ tickets were merely a revocable license only allowing entrance to the stadium and a place from which to watch a particular game.

The NFL here appealed the denial of the no relief motion and prevailed

we find public policy considerations weigh in favor of restricting the rights of spectators to bring actions based on the conduct of officials of professional sporting leagues. As the federal court in Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 237 (3d Cir. 2010), explained, “it is not the role of judges and juries to be second-guessing the decision taken by a professional sports league purportedly enforcing its own rules.” Allowing such suits would only serve to “further burden already limited judicial resources and force professional sports organizations and related individuals to expend money, time, and resources to defend against such litigation.” Id. While we are certainly cognizant of the passion of sports fans, and particularly those who are fans of the New Orleans Saints, the courts are not the proper forum to litigate such disputes.

Accordingly, we find the district court erred in finding plaintiffs have a right of action to bring this suit. We must reverse that judgment and grant the exception.

(Mike Frisch)

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