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Saints caution Louisiana Supreme Court against potential impact of spectator lawsuits

The new pass interference replay review made its debut in the Hall of Fame game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. Mike Florio believes the more we see the reviews in the preseason, the better off we'll be.

Frivolous lawsuits make strange bedfellows.

The Saints and the NFL have had a rocky relationship to say the least in recent years, starting with the bounty scandal and continuing with the badly-blown call at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship loss to the Rams. On the question of whether a ticket holder should be able to sue over the outcome of a sporting event, the Saints and the NFL are on the same page.

Whereas the NFL submitted a 34-page brief in support of the effort to persuade the Louisiana Supreme Court to pull the plug on a lawsuit that has survived to date in the lower courts, the Saints submitted a three-pages-and-change document echoing the league’s bottom-line concern that spectator lawsuits aren’t good for the bottom line.

“While the Saints appreciate the fervor and dedication of their deep and passionate fan-base, allowing such claims to proceed in court would open the door to countless legal claims brought by passionate sports fans that would inundate the courts and overburden sports leagues and their member teams, including the Saints,” the team’s brief explains. “Such endless litigation could also hinder efforts to bring other major sporting events to our state.”

That’s a good point. If Louisiana permits spectator lawsuits, sports leagues would be less inclined to stage major events, like the Super Bowl or the Final Four, at the Superdome.

Still, it’s not an easy balance for the Saints to strike between business considerations and fan loyalty.

“The Saints appreciate the fervor and dedication that this commitment engenders in their deep and passionate fan-base,” the team’s brief states in its conclusion. “The Saints appreciate that those fans are willing to take up what they may perceive to be the Saints’ cause. But taking up such a cause in this forum, in the courts, is not warranted, and is not in the Saints’ interests. The Saints should be the sole advocate of their interest in the fair conduct of the events in which they participate. Louisiana law is clear that non-participant spectators and even the most dedicated of fans may not take up that mantel.”

Later today, we’ll take a closer look at the specific arguments made by the plaintiffs and the NFL. The case has survived through multiple levels of the Louisiana court system for a reason; a dismissal at the highest judicial level in Louisiana should hardly be regarded as a slam-dunk proposition.