Shannon P. Duffy of the Legal Intelligencer reports that oral argument questions by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit suggests a possible reversal of a lower court’s dismissal of a class action based on the New England Patriots’ 2007 Tapegate scandal. A New York Jets season ticket holder claims that the Patriots’ alleged act of secretly taping Jets’ defensive signals amounted to a fraud that deprived him of his expectation of seeing games decided by fair play. According to Duffy:
In an oral argument that lasted more than an hour on Wednesday, all three judges expressed some skepticism of the plaintiffs’ claims during the first half. One judge wondered if the court would be encouraging fans to file lawsuits every time they disagreed with a referee’s decision.
But the judges were much more aggressive when questioning the lawyers for the NFL and the Patriots.
Cowen especially seemed swayed by the plaintiffs’ arguments, telling the defense lawyers that he considered the games to be rigged when the Patriots “knew every signal and [were] able to foretell every play that was going to be called.”
But Goldfein insisted that, unlike an illegally fixed game, the outcomes of the Patriots’ games were not certain, and that fans “got what they paid for.”
Sour grapes, I know, but if the Third Circuit reverses this case, I’ll be first in line to serve as class representative for a class of Seattle Seahawks season ticket holders who feel that they were cheated out of the 2005-06 season due to one-sided officiating in Super Bowl XL.