Class Action Litigation Report® is a one-stop resource for tracking the most important class-action and multi-party litigation across the nation, and across all subjects with particular focus on...
By Perry Cooper
Jan. 14 — A proposed class action alleging the National Football League inflated Super Bowl ticket prices fails because the plaintiffs have no standing to sue, the Third Circuit affirmed.
Josh Finkelman bought two tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey on the resale market for $2,000 apiece; they had a face value of $800. Ben Hoch-Parker decided not to buy tickets when he saw how expensive they were for resale.
The two filed a class action against the NFL, alleging that the NFL's ticketing practices violated New Jersey law. They argued that the NFL distributed 99 percent of Super Bowl tickets to league insiders and only made 1 percent available to the general public, who had to enter a lottery for the chance to buy tickets.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held Jan. 14 that neither had constitutional standing to bring the case.
“Were we to decide otherwise, anyone who purchased a Super Bowl ticket on the resale market would have standing to sue in federal court based on nothing more than conjectural assertions of causation and injury,” the court said.
The plaintiffs relied on the New Jersey “Ticket Law,” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56.8–35.1, part of the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
That law makes it unlawful to withhold more than a certain number of tickets to an event from sale to the general public.
The district court held that the plaintiffs didn't plead a viable claim under the law, and that Finkelman failed to plead causation because he couldn't demonstrate that he suffered an injury from the NFL's alleged misconduct.
Hoch-Parker didn't have standing because he didn't show that he suffered any harm “beyond pure speculation and mere hypothetical,” the district court ruled.
The appeals court agreed that Hoch-Parker didn't suffer a “particularized” injury because he never purchased tickets to the game. The amount of damages he might have suffered due to the NFL's misconduct is “completely indeterminate,” it said.
But the appeals court criticized the district court for getting to the merits of Finkelman's claim because he also doesn't have standing.
He didn't adequately assert that his inability to buy a face-price ticket is fairly traceable to any actions by the NFL. Instead, any harm he suffered is properly attributed to his own decision not to enter the ticket lottery, the court said.
The court also rejected the argument that but for the NFL's alleged wrongdoing, the price Finkelman paid for a resold ticket would have been cheaper.
“We have no way of knowing whether the NFL's withholding of tickets would have had the effect of increasing or decreasing prices on the secondary market,” the court said. “We can only speculate—and speculation is not enough to sustain Article III standing.”
Nagel Rice LLP represented the plaintiffs.
Haynes & Boone LLP and Fox Rothschild LLP represented the NFL.
To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey D. Koelemay at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)