NEWARK, N.J. — The NFL's "Spygate" is headed back to court.
The U.S. Third Circuit Court of
Appeals in Philadelphia is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Wednesday in
a lawsuit arising from the New England Patriots' secret videotaping of
New York Jets coaches in a game at Giants Stadium in 2007.
The suit was filed by a Jets season
ticket holder who also is an attorney in New Jersey, and it claims the
Patriots' actions "violated the contractual expectations and rights of
New York Jets ticket-holders" who paid to watch a game played in
compliance with the league's rules.
The Patriots were caught taping
signals by Jets coaches, a violation of league rules, during the opening
game of the 2007 season. New England won 38-14 at Giants Stadium in
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 for
that incident, and stripped New England of a first-round draft choice.
Carl Mayer's lawsuit asserts that
because other teams also found illicit videotaping by the defendants,
Jets ticketholders should be compensated for all games played in Giants
Stadium between the Jets and Patriots since Belichick became head coach
"What we're arguing is that
professional sports is a business that has to respect the law just like
any other business, and that teams that participate can't commit fraud
on ticketholders," Mayer said Tuesday. "The Patriots had altered the
rules of the game and were playing with advance knowledge of opponents'
Mayer and co-counsel Bruce Afran also
will argue that the Patriots violated federal racketeering laws as well
as New Jersey's consumer protection laws by concealing material facts —
the existence of the videotaping — from paying customers.
The suit calculated that because
customers paid $61.6 million to watch eight "fraudulent" games, they're
entitled to triple that amount — or $184.8 million — in compensation
under racketeering and consumer fraud laws.
Mayer and Afran are appealing the
dismissal of the case in March 2009 by U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown
Jr. in Trenton. Shep Goldfein, an attorney representing the NFL in the
matter, referred to Brown's ruling in which the judge wrote that a
ticket seller only contracts to provide entry to a ticketholder "to view
whatever event transpires."
An attorney representing the Patriots
did not return a telephone message Tuesday.
"People pay hundreds of dollars for
tickets and expect a fair game," Afran said. "It's not professional
wrestling, where you know it's rigged."