A New Orleans Saints fan and season ticket holder has sued the team for a refund on his tickets due to the ongoing protests during the national anthem, according to a report in The Advocate.
The fan, Lee Dragna, filed suit on Monday seeking the value of his season tickets as well as attorney fees. He claims that the protests by players – against police brutality and racial injustice throughout the country, sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick – prevented him and his family from enjoying the games.
New Orleans is 9-4 and currently tied for first place in the NFC South with the Carolina Panthers. They have a sterling 5-1 record at the Superdome.
Dragna said he hasn’t attended a game since the first home game of the 2017 season against the New England Patriots, on Sept. 17, when he said some of the players did not come out for the singing of the national anthem.
When they did come out, the suit says, “They passed directly in front of where the petitioner and his guests were seated. Many of the fans in that area booed and cursed at the Saints players.”
“Apparently, these players were following the lead of (former San Francisco 49ers quarterback) Colin Kaepernick by disrespecting the flag, the anthem, the USA and those who have served and are serving the USA in our military,” the suit says.
Dragna, a businessman in Morgan City, said Tuesday that the rowdy, angry reaction of the people around his seats has made the tickets unusable by him and his family, as well as customers he would otherwise give the tickets to.
The tickets Dragna purchased are 25 rows back from the field and on the 20-yard line. He requested a refund of the approximately $8,000 value from team officials, but that request was denied.
“They don’t even want to talk about this, but I don’t care,” he said. “One way or another they’ll pay.”
Due to the team’s success, Dragna could presumably have recouped at least a substantial percentage of his investment via resale. Tickets around the 20 yard line in the lower level for Sunday’s Saints home game against the New York Jets start for sale on TicketClub.com at $167 (per ticket) as of Tuesday morning.
Legal experts quoted by the Advocate say the lawsuit has little chance of success, partially because of a clause in the season ticket contract which makes purchasers consent to arbitration. The team will likely ask that the court dismiss the suit and move the dispute to an arbitration setting.
“This lawsuit has very little chance of success,” said Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane University’s Sports Law Program. “Fans do not have legal standing or a cause of action simply because they are unhappy with how a team performs or acts on the field. If fans were allowed to sue for breach of contract every time they were disappointed with the performance or conduct of a player, there would be an unending string of lawsuits across the country.”
He added: “An NFL ticket allows you to enter a stadium to watch a football game, but it does not guarantee that the players will act in ways that do not upset you — either athletically or politically.”
Given the political climate surrounding the NFL protests – those who believe the players have no right to protest while in team uniform, including the current White House administration and right-wing media included – make this an interesting case to follow. Were the suit to be successful, one imagines the climate of semi-support of the protest that the league has maintained would rapidly disappear.