Thursday, June 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Super Bowl XLV Seating Debacle|Becomes a Federal Class Action

DALLAS (CN) - The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL face a class action from ticketholders who were barred from Sunday's Super Bowl because a fire marshal found their temporary seats unsafe. Four hundred ticketholders were turned away and 800 were given seats elsewhere, some with obstructed views. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a defendant, had folding chairs set out to try to break the Super Bowl attendance record.

Named plaintiff Mike Dolabi, a local from Tarrant County, is particularly upset because, he paid for a personal seat license of at least $100,000 per seat for his "Founders of Cowboys Stadium" status, which the Cowboys promised would entitle him the "best sightlines in the stadium," according to the federal complaint.

Dolabi and the other named plaintiff, Steve Simms of Pennsylvania, seek class damages of more than $5 million for fraud, breach of contract, deceit, deceptive trade practices and concealment.

Simms was one of 1,200 unlucky fans who were informed that installation of his temporary seats had not been completed and were deemed unsafe by the fire marshal.

About 800 fans were accommodated with seats elsewhere in the stadium, but Simms was one of 400 who were denied seats altogether.

Dolabi says he was assigned seats with obstructed views.

The plaintiffs say that nearly all of the temporary seats, on metal fold-out chairs, lacked reasonable views of the stadium's highly touted, giant video board.

In response to the seating debacle, the NFL offered displaced fans a choice: a free ticket to next year's Super Bowl game and $2,400, which is 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 say the offer is insufficient, that it does not cover all travel costs, nor compensate for their disappointment and frustration.

Nor does a triple face value refund cover the cost many fans paid for their tickets, they say.

And the plaintiffs say that with the labor dispute between NFL owners and players continuing, there is no way for the defendants to ensure that there will be a Super Bowl next season.

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Avenatti with Eagan Avenatti of Newport Beach, Calif.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.