A class action lawsuit alleging that Super Bowl XLVIII’s ticket policies may have violated state consumer protection laws is being moved forward by federal appeals court, after reversing a lower court ruling on Friday, according to reporting at Bloomberg Law.
Josh Finkelman, a New Brunswick football fan, sued the National Football League after having paid $2,000 each for tickets on the secondary market that were $800 face value to the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. Finkelman believes the NFL is responsible for the price inflation because they made a mere 1 percent of that ticket inventory available to the public through a lottery system. New Jersey’s Ticket Law makes it unlawful to withhold more than 5 percent of tickets from sale to the general public.
A lower court had previously dismissed the lawsuit in January 2016 because “the plaintiffs’ claims were based on conjectural assertions of causation and injury”.
Finkelman argues that withheld tickets are given to industry insiders, who give them to ticket brokers. He says the NFL’s withholding of tickets artificially decreases supply and increases demand, causing the prices brokers are able to charge to inflate on the secondary market.
On December 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said this was established standing to sue. The case will be resolved at trial after review by New Jersey’s Supreme Court.
Attorney Bruce Nagel, representing Finkelman, said the NFL ”violated the ticket sales law of New Jersey and now will be liable for hundreds of millions in damages.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email Friday the league’s policies didn’t run afoul of the law.
”We remain confident that the NFL’s distribution of tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII complied with New Jersey law – a position that the District Court in New Jersey has agreed with on two separate occasions – and look forward to presenting that position before the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
The matter argued in this trial reflects an ongoing attempt by the National Football League to completely corner the Super Bowl ticket market and maximize revenue, including that collected through the secondary market. Last week, On Location Experiences – a hospitality and experience provider primarily focused on the NFL Super Bowl and partially owned by NFL owners – purchased secondary ticket provider PrimeSport from the Carlysle Group. The purchase allows On Location to control a large percentage of the Super Bowl ticketing and ancillary revenue via concerts and other events surrounding the massive event.