A Hail Mary heave by Saints ticket-holders to hold the NFL to account for the infamous “no call” that cost the team a likely berth in the Super Bowl was heard Monday in New Orleans’ federal courthouse.
But the long-shot lawsuit was still unresolved Monday evening, with U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan asking the two sides for further briefing.
Morgan, who had a separate trial going on in her courtroom most of the day, held an hourlong hearing on the lawsuit at midday Monday. Lawyers for both sides reconvened in her chambers around 5 p.m. for a closed-door meeting.
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Gladstone Jones, a New Orleans-based lawyer for the league, emerged from the judge’s chambers at around 6:30 p.m. and said there was no news to report.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs came out a little later, and Frank D'Amico, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said that Morgan had requested additional briefs over the next few days.
"We're still fighting hard to get Commissioner (Roger) Goodell to do the right thing," D'Amico said.
The hearing came after a lawsuit filed last week by two Saints ticket-holders, Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert, on behalf of themselves and the fan base known as “Who Dat Nation.”
A federal judge in New Orleans heard from lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit filed by Saints ticket-holders aggrieved over the infamous “no call” that cost the team a likely berth ...
Among the damages the plaintiffs sought was a court order to force the league to invoke Rule 17, which requires Goodell to investigate an on-field "calamity" that unfairly turned a game - and order the teams to replay part or all of it if he sees fit.
During Monday's hearing on the matter, Jones conceded that the call was blown. He made the case, however, that the rules cited in the lawsuits to overturn a "calamity," were not intended for such a situation.
‘The NFL gets it," Jones said. "When its fans are upset, the NFL is upset … It’s a call the National Football League would have liked to see made.”
Jones said that the NFL has never invoked Rule 17. Regardless, he said, it doesn't apply to judgment calls by referees on the field.
But the plaintiffs argued that the league had, in fact, invoked "Rule 17" to rewind the clock on at least one occasion. They pointed to a 2001 game between the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars in which the commissioner ordered referees to finish the game after a disputed call led fans to throw bottles and other items onto the field. The referees had ended the game before the commissioner's order.
D'Amico Jr. said in court Monday that his clients "are not asking for money damages." He added that they are seeking a court order forcing the NFL to follow its own rules and bylaws -- namely, for Goodell to investigate the "no call" in a process that allows for public hearings.
"We're not trying to stop the Super Bowl from going forward," D'Amico said. "We're asking a court to compel the commissioner to follow the rules."
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But attorneys for the NFL on Monday said that was news to them, and they accused the plaintiffs' attorneys of shifting their demands. Morgan, the judge, expressed confusion over just what the plaintiffs were seeking and on what grounds they are claiming the legal standing to sue.
As filed, the lawsuit sought redress from the NFL and Goodell over the mental anguish, emotional trauma and economic loss the plaintiffs claim they suffered from the epic officiating debacle on Jan. 20.
That’s when the referees failed to flag a blatant pass-interference penalty on a Los Angeles Rams player who had decked wide receiver Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived in the waning minutes of the NFC title game.
A penalty on the play would have allowed the Saints to wind the clock nearly all the way down and kick a likely game-winning field goal.