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  • DEAR DISPLACED FANS: ASK NOT FROM THE NFL

    "Ask not?"

    Yeah, right.

    If only our fellow constituency could stay content with being content.

    If only the fabric of this country were solely built on a boy scout's honor, where no one would endeavor to get up, by getting over.

    On either side of the fence, that is.

    But these are the proud states of the red, white and blue. No doubt the home of the brave; but more and more, the land of the litigious.

    That's right. These days, everybody is suing somebody.

    So why should things be any different for Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, Stadium management, associated corporate entities, and the National Football League? Collectively all were named in a federal class action lawsuit by two ticket-holders Tuesday, seeking more than $5 million for themselves and the group of fans denied seating or subjected to obstructed views at Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.

    Pause...

    Excuse me while I chuckle. Only at the obvious little irony.

    You see, how ironic is that those in charge of the place that hosts America's Team, actually tried to pull a fast one on the American people, who have now do-si-doed back around the elitist Texan of them all, and two-stepped into their nearest lawyer's office?

    That's right -- of the 1,250 fans originally displaced, due to temporary seating not ready in time to boost attendance and Jones' ego, 850 were accommodated in other areas, including auxiliary press seating where I was located and observing. But for the 400 that remained, not so much.

    So what do these displaced fans want now?

    A remedy that fairly equates to an eye for an eye?

    Or will they seek to abuse an opportunity by leveraging extra perks outside of their losses, and create more wrongs intended to right the original wrong?

    Let's examine...

    Two days ago, two men, Steve Simms (who traveled from Pennsylvania) and Mike Dolabi (a native Texan and a Cowboys season ticket holder), alleged they were deceived by the aforementioned defendants, when they collectively failed to deliver their promised seats and knowingly delayed informing them about the pending fiasco.

    Dolabi is among an elite season ticket holders group known as the "Founders" who paid a minimum of $100,000 per seat reportedly for a personal seat license that helped in raising more than $100 million towards the venue's construction.

    According to the suit, Dolabi's license should have provided him with the "best sight lines in the stadium," but Dolabi was ultimately seated in a location that didn't live up to this "Jerry World" billing.

    As for Simms, he says he spent thousands of dollars in travel and associated costs to come see the Steelers play the Packers. However, he ended up among the 400 displaced fans who didn't even have the "luxury" of viewing the side corner of the GodzillaTron-TV monstrosity, according to the suit.

    So now what?

    Well, after that recap, I think we can all agree that Simms and Dolabi, and the fans on whose behalf they represent collectively, didn't get what they paid for.

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

    But collectively or individually, are these fans going overboard now by "asking" for too much, and by not being content with the league's concessions?

    Let the record show that, albeit once the seating fiasco became public, the National Football League immediately issued an apology notice to these fans disseminated through all attending Super Bowl media.

    Expected, but noted.

    Subsequently they announced concession one: $2,400 (triple face value of this Super Bowl's ticket), plus a ticket for next year's Super Bowl as well.

    Later, concession two: One free ticket to any Super Bowl of choice, plus a round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for a package deal.

    So...

    Is that not enough?

    Of course it's not enough for fans who specifically came to see the Steelers play the Packers, and were unable to do so because this distinct experience cannot be replaced.

    Noted.

    So the question becomes, what's the value of that specific loss, and will everyone effected agree?

    Is triple not enough?

    Sure, this increase is only of the face value of the Super Bowl ticket, but can the NFL be held accountable for the markup each fan couldn't avoid?

    Granted, displaced fans paid for travel and accommodations to an experience they ultimately didn't receive. But isn't having those expenses covered to the exact same event, at time of their own choosing as a future option, the next best thing for what can actually and fairly be provided for in the present?

    I guess not.

    Now comes a class action lawsuit, and possibly others separately to follow, litigating for more.

    Goodness. It's only been four days since the Super Bowl.

    Has the entire group of 400 separately, without contention, even communicated the remedies they feel would be fair yet before contacting Cousin Vinny?

    From this perspective it appears the league is offering what is both prudent and judicious.

    Besides, are none of these displaced fans going to attempt to create their own "concession #3" by selling their ticket or package deal for more on the side if they can get away with it?

    Exactly.

    At the end of the day, the wrong committed upon them was a wrong, but in the grand scheme of things it also didn't result in the loss of life, nor did it cause a "grave" injustice against society.

    So getting more for punitive damages for this particular case, in my mind, is a stretch, even if an entity as large as the NFL can afford it.

    Heck, am I suing the NFL for sticking me besides displaced angry fans that weren't supposed to be a part of my Super Bowl work experience?

    Nope.

    Bottom line, the NFL's concessions are just, and it's just a game.

    But "asking not" for more than you should.........shouldn't be.

    Comments 30 Comments
    1. FessJL0861's Avatar
      Josina, allow me to start by saying ABSO-FRICKIN-LUTELY!!! My Lord, the lawsuit fever took over this country about 3 decades ago, but it has now begun to get absurd. The worst part is, the plaintiffs can only present the suit. The juries and judges allow the judgments to happen! Just because the NFL can afford it, that does not make it right. The future package plus face value x3 is more than fair. I will never understand why people have such a sense of misguided entitlement. When I get my "15 minutes", I want it for rescuing a box of puppies from a burning building or saving a choking baby. NOT for being wronged. I would have been very happy to get press level seating out of it.

      A small sidebar: When I was very young, before my dad died, he took me to a exhibition MLB game played at our local AAA affiliates stadium in Louisville (Orioles vs. Reds). Our seats were directly behind a column, and were well over partially blocked. He mentioned this to an usher who told him we couldn't move. He politely asked for a supervisor, who immediately got us a few hot dogs and drinks, and took us to field level seats. We didn't get there until the 4th inning, but that was one of my signature memories with my dad. We were so close to the field, Cal Ripken Jr. signed a ball for me. Sure we missed the first 3 innings, but the additional experience was amazing.

      The correlation I'm trying to make is that sports and seating have become way to status related. If you are a real fan of the game (or any game really), all you want is to have the opportunity to see the last quarter, last period, or last 3 innings. These fans did get wronged, but the NFL has bent over backwards to accommodate. The generation that doesn't want a freebie or a handout has since gone away. There may be a few of us left, but trust me, we don't want the recognition.

      Disclaimer: I realize that an exhibition baseball game isn't the SuperBowl, but the premise remains the same in my mind.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      I hate frivolous lawsuits. Allowing people to sue for every little thing is one of the main reasons why our society has degraded to where we are now.

      But, to play devils advocate, there is one thing those fans will never be able to get that's difficult to put a price tag on- The experience of a lifetime. Sure, paying for the expenses and tickets and offering a free, all expenses paid trip to a Super Bowl of their choice is all well and good, but does it replace the experience of seeing your favorite team play in the Super Bowl? If you're a Packers fan, can you put a price tag on the experience of seeing your favorite team WIN the Super Bowl, live and in person? What if the Packers never make it back to the Super Bowl in your lifetime? Is there a reasonable amount of money that can make up for missing out on this experience?

      I do agree suing for millions of dollars is over the top though. While you can't really put a price tag on experience, I do think there's a point where you say, "Look, we're sorry we screwed you, and we want to try to make this right, but we're not going to let you extort us."
    1. Polishguy00's Avatar
      I can absolutely see both sides of this argument.

      First, I think what the NFL has offered is as fair as it can be at this point. I can understand a bit of the frustration that these fans felt, but I was wronged by weather, not by the NFL. When I went to the Miami Super Bowl with my dad we had to pay over 3 (about 3.5) times the value of the ticket to go. The NFL offer may not be sufficient to what these people actually paid.

      What happened to me was absolutely my fault. I did not take a jacket to Miami. It rained. It was hard and unusually cold. Due to this and the lack of ponchos after a very short time (rumors circled that people that did get them created a black market for them at $100 a pop); I was forced to watch the second half of the Super Bowl on a flooding concourse. If I had stayed in my seat, I certainly would have ended up in a hospital that night. Not a big part of the story, but the way I can feel something like these fans felt is that I know what it is like to not have the experience not live up to the billing. Before that happened, the moment that I had with my dad watching Hester run towards us is still one of the top three most surreal moments of my life when I actually felt like I was off my feet.

      The fans were robbed of all of that. All of it. Some probably paid more than the monetary offer. A "Time" article from yesterday described other hardships such as bolts falling from some of the temporary seats that has apparently passed inspection.

      So, what seems to be fair? I think Option #2 is the better option for those fans and I think Option #1 is only short in the initial monetary component in the hopes that supply and demand are so much in a sellers' favor in the future that a transferable ticket sold would pay for the rest of the previous trip, which is a similar result to what Fess got at the baseball game. Demands beyond this do seem to be unfair, but the fans do seem to have a great ace in the hole.

      I am no legal expert of any kind, but I do know that "prior knowledge" is a term that can ultimately lead to the NFL being in a position it is not used to: dangling with their unmentionables being cradled by other hands. With other bad press around involving the NFL at this time, it seems likely that the NFL will settle.

      If I showed up in Miami and could not be in the seat for Hester's return, I think I would have been upset for a really long time and it definitely would have led to emotional things such as berating people who probably would not have deserved it. What would have calmed me down would have be a quick offer and communication. First hand reports seem to point that both of these things were lacking. When things calmed down, I am sure I would have settled on this: Refund equal to the ticket price I had actually paid for the game and picking Option #2 after that. I also would have made sure that the NFL would agree that the offer would be able to transferred to another person in the event of death.

      I hope the famous word of "greed" does not rule this negotiation and the term we will hear is "amicable solution." I hope that the 400 fans that demand penalties and 25 years of free season tickets on the 50 realize that they are only hurting their fellow fans with those types of demands. That way, the NFL would have an instance where it could learn from the people that they are about to take their product from. I fear that this will not happen here and will not happen during the meetings with the NFLPA that are no longer scheduled.
    1. Robmoore365's Avatar
      I disagree. Both of these teams will be back in the Superbowl in the near future. A set of free tickets and air fare seems like more than enough. If that’s not enough for them, I will take it!!! I guess if it was the Bears in the Superbowl, Bears fans would be a little more upset knowing that it was a fluke and that they may never see that again!
    1. NFLchick's Avatar
      Not all fans are that litigious. I was fortunate enough to attend the game as I have the past several years and early in the 2nd quarter my phone battery started dying. I started offering bartenders ridiculous money for their chargers, but no one had one to match my phone so I went on a mission to the club concourse. There I saw two twenty-something girls decked out in Steelers attire (I was wearing GREEN). The girls were plugged into the wall, using a charger that matched my phone. I offered them cash for their chargers but they were so nice that they offered to charge AND watch my phone while I returned to my seat to watch the game (even for a Packers fan like me) since they had "unsafe" seats. THEY were some of the "displaced" fans and were still kind-hearted. I bought them a round of drinks, went back to the game and were amazed that they were sitting nicely watching the game on TV. So I used what connections I had to bring them down to my seats to watch the Halftime Show (4th row from field, 40 yard line Hall of Fame section, doesn't get any better) and the girls were ecstatic and we all danced together. Even better, some people near us went up to a Suite so the girls could watch the game in WAY better seats than they would have had. They could have taken the $100 I offered for the charger and missed out on this experience. Moral of the story: keep a good attitude, do something nice for someone and you will reap benefits far greater. Hopefully all of those fans looking at a lawsuit see the light someday.
    1. Colts01's Avatar
      Maybe the Governor Of Pennsylvania was right. I do think those fans should be reimbursed the cost of tickets,travel and a future game,nothing more or less.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      The fans were mistreated for sure, but a $5MM class action lawsuit? Unfortunate sign of the times.The NFL is a $9 billion gorilla. I'm sure the class action suit filed by the fans could possibly be heard by a judge and jury that some talented attorney may convince that a hefty payout by the NFL is warranted. The NFL has deep pockets...they probably will appeal if necessary. I see a settlement which would avoid more public relations problems. Of the current choices the NFL is offering, I take option#2, an all expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl of your choice. The Steelers and Packers have a good shot of returning to the Super Bowl. Super Bowl tickets, travel costs, hotel rooms, are only going to increase. Who knows 5-10 years from now what that package could be worth? I'm sure the seat location will be prime. Any year the fan could decide to market the package. The may get more than 3 times its value. This would not just be tickets, but include travel and lodging. This option gives you the flexibility of attending if your team earns a spot, or having a valuable Super Bowl package if it doesn't on a year by year basis.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      I think we're missing a big part of the picture here. Those 400 displaced fans had escaped to the ONE place in the country where they could watch the super bowl without hearing Buck and Aikman. They arrived in Dallas thinking they were safe but what does the NFL do? Put them in a room where they had to watch the game on TV and be subjected to mind numbing bits of data such as "you're absolutely right Troy, a touchdown would be better than a field goal here." And they didn't have access to the mute button!

      You can't put a dollar figure on that kind of suffering.
    1. Swami's Avatar
      Clem, I know Cris will remain silent but I can say you have made a strong case that severe punishment is warranted!
    1. darvon's Avatar
      Josina et al, I am going to take the opposite side. I am going to say there are way too little litigation.

      Before you get the rope...hear me out.

      I am a businessman, not a lawyer. And I have been on the pointy end of the court system several times. When I have been one thing I have noticed, even though I am on the other end of the political spectrum from the ABA, I have found Judge's decision reasonable 90 times out of 100. 9 other times I might disagree with the judgement, but I can see how the Judge could come to that conclusion. And only 1 time out of 100 does the Judge come up with a doosy.

      The problem is not Judges giving out bad decisions . The problem is that litigation is too expensive to do very much. In the most meager of lawsuits, you quickly get to $10,000 far before its over. A reasonable small lawsuit defense or plaintiff probably costs about $15,000-$25,000. Plus your time. Plus the inconvenience of producing documents. Dscovery launches this cost into Bonus Level money. And as a defendant there is always that 1 out of 100 chance that the judge goes nutz and you lose LOTTO MONEY.

      94 out of 100 lawsuits never receive a judgement, they are settled out of court. I have lawyer friends who point to this with pride, thinking that they help people settle differences. That is totally wrong. A legal judgement is so slow and expensive, that even unreasonable settlements are cheaper. And this goes both ways. I once had a $11,000 company loss against another company and sounded out legal bills and just gave up trying to get a judgement.

      For a long time I have been a proponent of automating the legal system. Just think if you could get a quick and cheap legal decision from the Judge-o-Matic 3000. At $100, 1 hour answering questions and 2 weeks turnaround, you would have A LOT MORE lawsuits and they would all go to JUDGEMENTS. Which would build case law in wonderful ways. Frivolous lawsuits would GO TO JUDGEMENT, because most plaintiffs can afford $100 and wait 2 weeks. And they would be found to be a waste of time. Wouldn't that be fun. A lawsuit is simply a request for a 3rd party judgement. It's the cumbersome legal system that makes a judgement too expensive to be used.


      Now, because lawyers run the legal system, it might take a while to see the Judge-o-matic 3000. But we should all dream for the day when lawsuits are Cheap, Fast, and Plentiful.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      We should also dream for the day when a judge uses common sense and starts throwing some of these lawsuits out. There's no reason why someone who is careless and has an accident through total fault of their own should be allowed to extort money from an institution through the legal process. If a woman trips over her own kid and breaks an ankle, she should not be allowed to sue the establishment. A family should not be allowed to sue the manufacturer of a lawnmower for the death of their child when it was the person riding it who was irresponsible. And no one should be able to sue a restaurant because you crashed into a parked car and spilled hot coffee on yourself.

      The Sooper Dooper Judge 3000 sounds like an interesting idea.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      If a woman trips over her own kid and breaks an ankle, she should not be allowed to sue the establishment. A family should not be allowed to sue the manufacturer of a lawnmower for the death of their child when it was the person riding it who was irresponsible.
      That's sort of recursively impossible. The way our system works is anyone can litigate anything and the judgement comes at the end. Remember 94% of all cases never get to court. Therefore the judge can't throw those 94 out, he never sees them. You can't STOP a family from suing a lawnmower manufacturer, the only way to get someone to STOP something is by getting a judgement in court, which you never get to because its so expensive.

      The problem is that getting to court costs $50,000.


      One GREAT fix to some of the problem would be to make ALL the cases proceed through judgement. It isn't the threat of judgement which is the problem, it the threat of going through the pre-judgement costs.


      There are other problems, but that's the big one.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      what the NFL offered them was MORE than reasonable.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Guaranteed, that as soon as this story broke, there were dozens - if not hundreds - of lawyers trying to track these folks down.

      So predictable.

      I hope it goes to court. It'll be fun to hear these folks embarrass themselves by telling of the hellish time they had.
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Good Work Josie. If those proactively suing the NFL had the experience you explained, including the concessions made to make up for lackluster experience, I think this is a rich man's way of pouting and pounding their fists on the floor. NFL will settle.
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by FessJL0861 View Post
      Josina, allow me to start by saying ABSO-FRICKIN-LUTELY!!! My Lord, the lawsuit fever took over this country about 3 decades ago, but it has now begun to get absurd. The worst part is, the plaintiffs can only present the suit....

      ....If you are a real fan of the game (or any game really), all you want is to have the opportunity to see the last quarter, last period, or last 3 innings. These fans did get wronged, but the NFL has bent over backwards to accommodate. The generation that doesn't want a freebie or a handout has since gone away. There may be a few of us left, but trust me, we don't want the recognition.

      Disclaimer: I realize that an exhibition baseball game isn't the SuperBowl, but the premise remains the same in my mind.
      Well written Fess. I completely agree. The more this story evolves it begins to feel like the squeeze to the squeeze. I shudder to think what will be the next forced concession...a spinning necklace?
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
      I hate frivolous lawsuits. Allowing people to sue for every little thing is one of the main reasons why our society has degraded to where we are now.

      But, to play devils advocate, there is one thing those fans will never be able to get that's difficult to put a price tag on- The experience of a lifetime. Sure, paying for the expenses and tickets and offering a free, all expenses paid trip to a Super Bowl of their choice is all well and good, but does it replace the experience of seeing your favorite team play in the Super Bowl? If you're a Packers fan, can you put a price tag on the experience of seeing your favorite team WIN the Super Bowl, live and in person? What if the Packers never make it back to the Super Bowl in your lifetime? Is there a reasonable amount of money that can make up for missing out on this experience?

      I do agree suing for millions of dollars is over the top though. While you can't really put a price tag on experience, I do think there's a point where you say, "Look, we're sorry we screwed you, and we want to try to make this right, but we're not going to let you extort us."
      Hey Sparta. Thanks for keeping up with me on twitter and the craziness over the last few. But to the topic...I see your point. The experience of seeing your team win the Super Bowl is irreplaceable. You're right, no one can guarantee the Packers will come return again. What's the reasonable amount? Great question. I do feel like the NFL has a pretty good stab on it though.
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Polishguy00 View Post
      I can absolutely see both sides of this argument.

      I hope the famous word of "greed" does not rule this negotiation and the term we will hear is "amicable solution." I hope that the 400 fans that demand penalties and 25 years of free season tickets on the 50 realize that they are only hurting their fellow fans with those types of demands. That way, the NFL would have an instance where it could learn from the people that they are about to take their product from. I fear that this will not happen here and will not happen during the meetings with the NFLPA that are no longer scheduled.
      Hey Polish...I am reading through the responses and you guys are so so impressive. Very thoughtful. I agree that the money in option # 1 could be closer to $3,000. More than that for each displaced fan is a bit of a stretch. I understand there is a markup on these tickets, but the NFL can't control the outside market. My car may be worth $500 dollars at the base level, but hagglers may be able to sell it for $5,000. Not the NFL's fault. I will be interested to keep an eye on the greed factor. I do believe the genuine fan experience was effected though.
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Robmoore365 View Post
      I disagree. Both of these teams will be back in the Superbowl in the near future. A set of free tickets and air fare seems like more than enough. If that’s not enough for them, I will take it!!! I guess if it was the Bears in the Superbowl, Bears fans would be a little more upset knowing that it was a fluke and that they may never see that again!
      What about the Redskins?
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by NFLchick View Post
      Not all fans are that litigious. I was fortunate enough to attend the game as I have the past several years and early in the 2nd quarter my phone battery started dying. I started offering bartenders ridiculous money for their chargers, but no one had one to match my phone so I went on a mission to the club concourse. There I saw two twenty-something girls decked out in Steelers attire (I was wearing GREEN). The girls were plugged into the wall, using a charger that matched my phone. I offered them cash for their chargers but they were so nice that they offered to charge AND watch my phone while I returned to my seat to watch the game (even for a Packers fan like me) since they had "unsafe" seats. THEY were some of the "displaced" fans and were still kind-hearted. I bought them a round of drinks, went back to the game and were amazed that they were sitting nicely watching the game on TV. So I used what connections I had to bring them down to my seats to watch the Halftime Show (4th row from field, 40 yard line Hall of Fame section, doesn't get any better) and the girls were ecstatic and we all danced together. Even better, some people near us went up to a Suite so the girls could watch the game in WAY better seats than they would have had. They could have taken the $100 I offered for the charger and missed out on this experience. Moral of the story: keep a good attitude, do something nice for someone and you will reap benefits far greater. Hopefully all of those fans looking at a lawsuit see the light someday.
      GREAT STORY...*NFL Chick* That was extremely nice of you. Salute.