Dallas Cowboys dropped from Super Bowl ticket suit

Posted Saturday, Jul. 21, 2012

The Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones are no longer part of a federal lawsuit filed by Super Bowl XLV ticket holders, but the class action suit against the National Football League will continue.

A federal judge dismissed the claims against the football team and its owner Thursday, but Michael Avenatti, an attorney for the fans, said the ticket holders' lawsuit against the NFL will proceed. He said no trial date has been set.

Hours before Super Bowl kickoff at Cowboys Stadium in February 2011, Arlington fire officials and building inspectors declared that 1,250 of 13,000 temporary bleacher-style seats were unsafe and could not be used.

City inspectors had told the Cowboys for weeks that the seat construction contractor was behind schedule and had not provided adequate documentation in areas such as structural engineering. The Cowboys notified the NFL about the situation days before the game, but ticket holders were not informed until they had cleared security at the stadium and their tickets were scanned.

Other ticket holders are seeking compensation because they were not notified that they would be in the temporary seats or would have obstructed views of the field or the video display.

Some had to watch from standing-room-only platforms. Others didn't get to reassigned seats until after the game was under way.

At least 400 didn't get to see the game at all.

The lawsuit says that the NFL breached its contract with ticket holders and that its settlement offers did not fully compensate them.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $5 million, not counting costs and interest, according to court documents.

Rich Dalrymple, Cowboys vice president of communications, declined to comment on the judge's decision.

Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL, said the league was pleased.

"The Court's ruling threw out all claims brought on behalf of those fans who were eligible for the NFL's voluntary reimbursement offers except for a breach of contract claim," McCarthy said in a statement.

"We continue to believe that the offers made to these ticket holders meet or exceed what they could be entitled to under the law. In fact, the vast majority of these fans accepted the NFL's offers long ago."

The NFL has said it satisfied its obligations to the displaced fans by offering them what they paid for tickets plus documented travel, lodging and meals.

About 2,800 people who were delayed getting to their seats or were relocated were offered the tickets' face value or a ticket to a future Super Bowl.

People who did not have a seat at all had more options: $2,400 plus a ticket to the 2012 Super Bowl, a trip to a future Super Bowl with airfare and a four-night hotel stay, a check for $5,000 or a check for more than $5,000 with documented expenses.

But Avenatti said the NFL is "not shooting straight with the media or the public."

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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