When I first heard that a putative class action had been filed in federal court in New York against the NFL, Giants and Jets, I assumed that the claim would have something to do with the fact that both teams have sucked (to use the technical legal term) for quite some time. So I was more than a little surprised to learn that the complaint was not about that at all. Rather, Abdiell Suero "individually and on behalf of millions of other similarly situated individuals" has sued both football teams, the NFL and MetLife Stadium for false advertising, deceptive practices and Civil RICO(!) because the teams denominated as "New York" actually play in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In brief, the plaintiffs claim that the teams' use of the New York and NY brand is false and deceptive advertising and has damaged plaintiffs by requiring them to spend far more time and money getting to and from games than if the teams were located in New York They also claim emotional and psychological damages.
If you are looking for entertainment this coming weekend, I strongly suggest that you forego watching the local teams and, instead, read the complaint in Suero v. NFL, et al., which can be found here. There are abundant treasures; enough to make you forget about your frustrations with Saquon Barkley and Zach Wilson for at least a while. Here are some spoilers:
- The Complaint alleges many NFL fans who attend Giants or Jets games for the first time are unaware that these teams play out-of-state and would not attend games if "they were warned in advance" that the teams play in New Jersey.
- Other NFL teams engage in similar misconduct, including the Dallas Cowboys who actually play in Arlington Texas.
- Giants and Jets fans are "insulted, ridiculed, harassed, tormented, and bullied by NFL fans around the United States due to the affiliation of the Giants and Jets with the State of New York rather than there true home, New Jersey."
- These fans have suffered mental and emotional damages as a result of defendants' conduct, including "limited and damaged eustress, self-esteem, escape, entertainment, group affiliation and family needs." (Eustress apparently is a positive reaction to stress; I am not sure what is meant by damaged family needs).
- Plaintiffs and the class demand $2 billion in compensatory damages and $4 billion in punitive damages as well as an injunction requiring the teams to move back to New York once their contract with MetLife stadium ends in 2025. In the interim, the teams must be renamed the New Jersey or East Rutherford Giants and Jets.
Amusement value aside, there appear to be a number of major problems with Plaintiffs' case. Just to name a couple, it would seem that there are serious statute of limitations issues. Plaintiffs allege that Giants have been playing in New Jersey since 1976 and the Jets since 1984. The limitations period for New York state false advertising and deceptive practices claims is 3 years. Also, courts really don't like RICO claims and Plaintiffs' assertion that defendants are engaged in interstate wire fraud would not appear to come near to meeting the pleading requirement for such a claim. And, of course, despite the conclusory allegations in the complaint, plaintiffs might have a hard time proving that they really were confused or mislead by the use of "New York" in the team names.
In short, plaintiffs chances of prevailing are probably not much greater than our seeing the "East Rutherford Giants" crowned as Super Bowl champs this year (or next).
Giants and Jets fans are "insulted, ridiculed, harassed, tormented, and bullied by NFL fans around the United States due to the affiliation of the Giants and Jets with the State of New York rather than there true home, New Jersey." Complaint, paragraph 62.