A Jets season-ticket holder has filed a $184-million class-action suit against the New England Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick, based on the penalties assessed against them for videotaping their opponents’ signals in the season opener, in violation of league rules. (The Patriots beat the Jets in that game 38-14.)
Carl Mayer, represented by Bruce Afran (Mayer is also an attorney), claims that the defendants "deceived customers" by their actions — essentially arguing that the games were "fraudulent" because fans were led to believe they would be played according to the rules. "They were deceiving customers," said Mayer. "You can’t deceive customers." Afran agreed that it was a "type of misrepresentation," and one that "violated the integrity of the game." In the language of the complaint, the actions violated the "expectations and rights" of Jets ticket holders to "observe an honest match played in compliance with all laws and regulations." Yes, every football fan has the right to expect all league rules to be followed without exception in each match. Why those men are out there negligently dropping flags all over the field, I have no idea. We’ll deal with them next.
The $184-million demand is apparently based on the total ticket value that fans paid to watch the eight "fraudulent" games that the Patriots have played against the Jets in Giants Stadium since Belichick became the Patriots’ head coach in 2000. Plaintiff calculates that amount at $61.6 million, which he wants tripled under RICO and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. That seems a bit much — surely Jets fans got some value out of these games, and since the Jets have compiled a sparkling 59-56 record since 2000, plaintiff may be overestimating the value to Jets season-ticket holders in the first place. Frankly, if this lawsuit goes anywhere, I may sue the Jets and their quarterback, Chad Pennington, for a series of crappy performances that have violated the integrity of my fantasy-football team and disappointed the valid expectations I had when I drafted them. That has "RICO violation" written all over it.
According to the Associated Press, Mayer and Afran are "public interest lawyers" who are well-known in the state "but generally have had little success in their causes." Both have not been elected to public office, and Mayer also helped the Nader campaign not succeed. They did not successfully get a special election to replace former Governor James McGreevey in 2004, were not able to block Governor Corzine’s appointment of someone else to fill his Senate seat, and did not persuade a federal prosecutor to launch a probe into gifts Corzine made to a former girlfriend. It appears that the Patriots are next.
After I first reported on the Patriots’ legal woes, I learned that star pro se litigant Jonathan Lee Riches
had also gotten involved. Riches, the inmate who has heroically sued defendants including Michael Vick, the CIA, Barry Bonds, the Mossad, and so forth, has filed his own suit against Belichick and the Patriots organization based on the videotaping scandal. Among the new allegations, Riches claims that the Patriots organization also videotaped patrons in the men’s bathroom and had a monthly contract to sell the footage to Idaho Senator Larry Craig.
That’s pretty good stuff, actually. It’s a shame Riches is wasting his talent on felonies.