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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Super Bowl Ticket|Trial Under Way

DALLAS (CN) - Angry ticketholders for Super Bowl XLV got their day in court Monday as jury selection began in their federal complaint against the National Football League.

Several breach of contract lawsuits were filed against the NFL after the February 2011 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers in the stadium at Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Ticketholders claimed temporary bleachers for which hundreds of fans had bought seats were not installed by game time, having been deemed unsafe by the fire marshal. Some fans were kicked out of the stadium; others were delayed entrance and/or given seats with obstructed views .

Lead plaintiff Bruce Ibe and six other ticketholders are the first plaintiffs to go to trial. They claimed that nearly all of the temporary seats, on metal fold-out chairs, lacked reasonable views of the stadium's giant video board.

The NFL offered the fans a choice: a free ticket to the next Super Bowl game and $2,400 - three times the face value of their game ticket; or a free ticket to any future Super Bowl game, round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations provided by the NFL.

The plaintiffs said the offer was not enough: that it did not cover all of their travel costs, nor compensate them for their disappointment and frustration.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn is expected to last two weeks. The judge expressed concern that widespread publicity of the seating debacle "would make it difficult to seat a jury."

Lynn questioned potential jurors Monday morning, asking if they have seen news reports about the lawsuit and if that would hinder their fairness as a juror.

The plaintiffs plan on calling several high-profile witnesses, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, according to their witness list filed in February.

The NFL plans will call the plaintiffs, several league officials and Scott Suprina, who owned and operated temporary seating contractor, Seating Solutions.

An eighth plaintiff in the lawsuit moved to dismiss her claims with prejudice on Sunday. Judge Lynn instructed attorneys to not mention the dismissal to the jury.

In September, Lynn ruled against the league's argument that damages should be limited to just a ticket refund and "incidental expenses."

The Cowboys and Jones are no longer parties to the lawsuit. In a separate lawsuit in August 2014, Lynn dismissed the Cowboys as a defendant because the game ticket "is a contract only between the NFL and a ticket purchaser."

Lynn was unswayed by the argument that the team received 5 percent of tickets to resell to some of the plaintiffs in that case.

Follow @davejourno
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