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Lawsuit Targets NFL, Dallas Cowboys Over 'Phantom' Super Bowl Seats

Action filed to represent fans who didn't get what they paid for

DALLAS - Two Green Bay Packers fans on Feb. 9 filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the National Football League, the Dallas Cowboys and Cowboys Stadium, saying that they were denied their dream of attending Sunday's Super Bowl XLV game even though they paid for tickets (Ken Laffin, et al. v. National Football League, et al., No. n/a, Texas Dist., Dallas Co.).

The lawsuit was filed in Dallas County District Court by Dallas-based law firm Goldfarb Branham, which says that Wisconsin residents Ken Laffin and David Wanta were sold tickets to seats that did not exist -"phantom" seats - "sold by a league that cared more about breaking attendance records and making profits than protecting the fans' experience." The suit is brought on behalf of Laffin and Wanta and all others similarly situated.

About 400 people who paid $800 to $900 or more per ticket were turned away from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday afternoon because temporary seating for about 1,250 people in some stadium sections were declared unsafe and unusable.  About 850 fans were relocated to other seats. The 400 refused admittance were later allowed to watch the game on monitors in a stadium bar behind the Pittsburgh Steelers' bench with no view of the field or from standing room only sections in the corners of the stadium.

"This is a case brought by individuals who were wrongly deprived of the right to participate in what promised to be a great event, Super Bowl XLV," the complaint says. "These individuals, who all acquired tickets to the game and who all relied on the fact that there would be reserved seats for them at Cowboy's Stadium, were all damaged by the Defendant's misrepresentations, omissions, and concealment of the cruel truth, which is that they had been sold tickets for seats that did not exist at the time and that were never to be had.

"The Defendants knew (or should have known) that these fans had bought tickets for seats that did not exist, but the Defendants concealed these material facts from the Plaintiffs, causing damages far beyond mere disappointment, but encompassing financial losses and consequential damages."

The suit includes claims of fraud, violations of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, breach of contract and negligence.

The plaintiffs say that at least a week before Sunday's game, the defendants knew the seats might not be ready, but remained silent. Since the game, both NFL officials and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have accepted responsibility in published reports.

This follows a Feb. 8 lawsuit filing by Eagan Avenatti LLP of Newport Beach, Calif., alleging breach of contract, fraud and deceptive sales practices by the Cowboys, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the NFL and related defendants. That suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.

The plaintiffs are represented by Charles W. "Trey" Branham III, Jeffrey Goldfarb and Hamilton Lindley of Goldfarb Branham in Dallas.

Click here to download the complaint.