Class Action Lawsuit Over New England Patriots' Cheating Is Dismissed

A class-action lawsuit filed by a football fan angered over one team's documented cheating has been dismissed on the basis that the fans did not suffer any loss by watching an NFL game that was not played according to the rules. The lawsuit was filed by a New York Jets season ticket-holder over the "Spygate" videotaping scandal of 2007, which arose when the New England Patriots were caught secretly videotaping the sideline signals of the Jets and relaying those signals down to the sidelines. The fan, Carl Mayer, sued the Patriots, the team's head coach, Bill Belichick, and the NFL for over $100 million because, on September 9, 2007, an agent of the Patriots videotaped the Jets coaches and players on the field in order to illegally capture and steal the Jets' signals and visual coaching instructions to their players. The Patriots were subsequently found by the NFL to have engaged in improper conduct. According to Mayer, the Patriots "cheating" violated the contractual expectations and rights of New York Jets ticket-holders who fully anticipated and contracted for a ticket to observe an honest match played in compliance with all laws, regulations and NFL rules "because the "Defendants tortiously interfered with [the fan's] contractual relations with the New York Jets in purchasing the tickets." Mayer asked the federal court to award damages to New York Jets ticket-holders. Interestingly, the Jets were not a party in the lawsuit, but filed a memorandum asking the court to dismiss the case. In 2009, a district court in New Jersey dismissed the case, but Mayer, who is an attorney, appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. In May 2010, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case, which in all likelihood, ends this matter. The Third Circuit's reasoning was that,

"Mayer [by purchasing a ticket to the game] possessed either a license or, at best, a contractual right to enter Giants Stadium and to have a seat from which to watch a professional football game. In the clear language of the ticket stub, this ticket only grants entry into the stadium and a spectator seat for the specified NFL game. Mayer actually was allowed to enter the stadium and witnessed the specified NFL game between the Jets and Patriots. He thereby suffered no cognizable injury to a legally protected right or interest."

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