Rash of Donor Lawsuits Against Texas Aggies

     BEAUMONT, Texas (CN) – A donor gave Texas A&M University and its booster club $40,000 for lifetime seats to football games, but the Aggies took them back and are demanding another $124,000 for the seats, the donor claims in court.
     Mary Jane Zummo sued Texas A&M University and the 12th Man Foundation, in Jefferson County Court. At least 18 other donors have filed similar lawsuits, according to the Houston Chronicle.
     Zummo claims the foundation asked her and her husband in the early 1980s to contribute $40,000 to a scholarship endowment in exchange for benefits that include the seats and best-available game-day parking.
     “These benefits included four football season tickets for home and road games for life; on information and belief, this included the right to choose their seat locations from the best available seating,” the lawsuit states.
     “In 1982, plaintiff’s husband personally picked out their seat locations in Kyle Field: west side, second deck, between the south 40 and 45 yard lines. On information and belief, defendant represented that the seat location would not change for the worse, and that they would only change if better seats became available and the plaintiff requested the change.”
     Zummo says her family received tickets for their seats for every home game since 1982, and that the family name was even affixed onto the seats.
     Things changed when the Aggies announced a $450 million expansion, capital campaign and reseating for the stadium this year, Zummo claims.
     “The reseating process involves a reallocation of seats for all members of defendant, and would require plaintiff (assuming no further increases in charges) to pay about an additional $124,000 simply to retain, for just the next ten years, the same seat locations defendant had already promised plaintiff’s husband would be theirs for life,” the complaint states.
     “In addition, the process would impose the ‘Priority Point Program’ upon plaintiff’s efforts to obtain seats in the same location, such that plaintiff would have to pay defendant yet additional and indeterminate sums of money in an effort to earn sufficient points to compete effectively to retain her seat location.”
     Donors have filed similar lawsuits this month against the 12th Man Foundation in Gregg and Nueces County Courts, Courthouse News records show.
     The Houston Chronicle reported more lawsuits against the foundation, from two former presidents of the Houston A&M Club, and a Houston eye surgeon.
     In fact, at least 19 donors, each of whom gave $20,000 or more to the scholarship fund, have sued the foundation, in five Texas counties, the Chronicle reported this month.
     Foundation president Skip Wagner told the Chronicle that most of the 492 endowed donors are participating in the reseating plan, and called that “more of a glass very full than a glass partly empty.”
     “That’s pretty good, given the lengths to which the plaintiffs’ attorneys have gone to generate publicity and attempt to attract people to their lawsuit,” Wagner told the Chronicle for its Aug. 2 edition.
     The stadium upgrade will give Kyle Field a capacity of 102,500 seats for the 2015 season, according to the 12th Man Foundation website.
     Zummo seeks actual damages and an injunction for breach of contract.
     She is represented by Randall Sorrells with Abraham Watkins in Houston.

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