Court to hear fan lawsuit over Patriots’ filming

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 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 East

Rutherford.

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 in 2000.

“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’ plays.”

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.”