Did the NFL cook up a blown call in the NFC Championship game in order to defraud New Orleans Saints fans? Naaah, but that didn’t prevent a local New Orleans judge from forcing league commissioner Roger Goodell into a deposition to answer questions about it. Despite a federal court ruling that essentially said laissez les bons temps rouler in February, the local judge is keeping a fraud lawsuit alive … for now:
A Saints superfan and New Orleans area attorney could soon get his chance to question NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the NOLA-no call.
The missed penalty ended the Saints season in a heartbreaking fashion.
A New Orleans judge met with the lawyer as well as attorneys for the NFL to decide when Goodell could be deposed in the ongoing court case.
Judge Nicole Sheppard told NFL attorney that they have to either settle or go to trial, but that they had to get off the docket.
It’s too late to overturn the game’s result, the plaintiff acknowledges, but Tony LeMon wants Goodell and the league to pay up for damages. Just what those damages might be is uncertain. The federal case relied on lower Super Bowl ticket prices for Saints fans to establish standing, but that argument got the ol’ heave-ho.
What other specific and ameliorable damage can LeMon or any other fan claim in order to establish standing in the case? It may have been the worst call in NFL history, but as anyone watching the game can attest, the refs made at least one bad non-call that favored the Saints too — and they had 59 other minutes in which to beat the Rams. The plaintiff wants to prove fraud in order to collect, but that would require some evidence of an intentional scheme to rob someone of something of value. And in most courts that aren’t homers, judges usually require some proffer of evidence before allowing for fishing-expedition depositions.
When Civil Court Judge Nicole Sheppard ruled attorney Tony LeMon could move forward with his lawsuit, the NFL filed an emergency writ with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop it. But, Sheppard denied their request Wednesday afternoon (July 24), which would have prevented Goodell’s deposition. …
FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti said he’s surprised by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and now, he said it now seems more likely a deposition will happen.
Sometimes underdogs win, too — but it seems unlikely that Goodell will ever sit down with LeMon and his attorneys. The NFL has already taken action to have a backup for similar moments in the future with booth reviews for certain types of penalty calls, the wisdom of which we will shortly see in the next few weeks. Courts have more important business than attempting to weaponize fan disappointment, even when that disappointment is real and sympathetic.