The No Call Case: New Orleans Lawyer Wins Right To Depose Roger Goodell

As many on this blog know, I am an avid football fan (Bears, of course) and my love for the sport is only equaled by my long-standing contempt for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. However, the recent decision of State Civil District Court Judge Nicole Sheppard of New Orleans to order Goodell and three officials to be deposed over the infamous “no-call” play last year is baffling. All of us immediately cried out after flagrant passer interference by the Los Angeles Rams was missed by officials (the only people in the universe who appear to have missed the violation). The failure likely cost the New Orleans Saints a return to the Superbowl. However, I cannot see how such a failure can possibly be judicable case for fraud. A no call is no case in my view.

Attorney Antonio LeMon was quite clever in filing his lawsuit. A die-hard Saints fan, LeMon’s lawsuit alleges fraud, unjust enrichment and “detrimental reliance.” All other lawsuits were moved to federal court where they were promptly dismissed. LeMon set his damages and claims in a way to keep the matter in state court and has now succeeded in forcing depositions. That is a remarkable feat. LeMon is seeking $75,000, which will be donated to charity.

The NFL, in signature Goodell fashion, portrays fans as virtually dumb corralled animals in jerseys. It argues that the fan hold tickets that are “merely a revocable license allowing entrance to the stadium and a place from which to watch a particular game.”

However, a bad case does not a fraud case make.

Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman’s his helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Tommylee Lewis should have been called for pass interference or roughness. On that point, there is unanimity. Even Robey-Coleman acknowledged as much after the game. Yet, this seems more visceral than legal — an opportunity (no doubt relished by all Saints fans) to pummel the NFL in a deposition.

I cannot hide some thrill in having a fan grill Goodell on any subject, but this is not the most credible. Of course, deposing Goodell on decades of ripping off fans and treating them like utter scum would take days of deposition.

12 thoughts on “The No Call Case: New Orleans Lawyer Wins Right To Depose Roger Goodell”

  1. As much as I personally despise Roger Goodell (and almost every other professional sports league commissioner), I think this is silly.

    Under any level of scrutiny or sanity, the fan is not in any position of legal standing to assert such a claim as this. For starters, the fan is not a participant in the event; the fan is a spectator. This is one reason why every sports league has rules against fan interference that are different than for player interference. A case of on-field interference by a player incurs a penalty against his team (if the official sees the infraction), or nothing (as what happened in this incident). A case of fan interference results in ejection from the arena and possible further sanctions.

    Similar to how courts have ruled that police do not have an absolute duty to arrest every violator of the law, the officials aren’t required to find every on-field violation. And just like political officials are their jurisdictions are not subject to penalty for every violation committed by their employees, even if intentional, the NFL and its officials should not be subject to penalty because a call on a specific play was or was not made.

    I believe Roger Goodell is only the second NFL commissioner, so I can’t make the same statement about that league as I have about MLB, which is that whoever is the current Major League Baseball commissioner the worst one ever, except for all the others. (I will exclude Kenesaw Mountain Landis from that statement, since I wasn’t alive during his reign. But all the others have been horrible.)

  2. After the disastrously bad failure to call egregious pass interference that ended the Saints’ playoff hopes, my wife attended a Super Bowl party with friends, all avid Saints fans.

    The theme was prominent local attorney Morris Bart’s famous television tag line – “One Call, That’s All!”

  3. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that it is important to the NFL that New Orleans does not win the game. The fix is in at the highest level. Who would be the most important person to depose? Remember he is likely to only get 6 hours with him unless they can convince the judge to extend the time. Sooooooooooo. Let’s help him with some questions for his depo.

  4. abuse of discovery in lawsuits is a social problem. judges need to throw down more sanctions for frivolous cases

    1. Is anyone ever sanctioned for a frivolous case? They create more work for judges and lawyers so that they can justify their jobs.

      1. Isn’t that one reason why judges will sometimes require the plaintiff in what turns out to be a frivolous case to pay both sides’ legal costs?

  5. Courts should not be meddling in this controversy. Let the NFL fumble it’s own way into irrelevancy. A blown call does not a lawsuit make.

  6. So many questions….

    What was the alleged false statement? An implied “There was no pass interference”?

    Is the allegation that the officials intentionally made that misrepresentation?

    How does a fan have standing?

    Does the fan claim that the alleged false statement was made to him?

    Does the fan claim that he relied on the false statement to his detriment?

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