A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL and its referees over the controversial ending to January’s NFC Championship game that may have cost the Saints a spot in the Super Bowl. The ruling comes one day after a state judge ordered league commissioner Roger Goodell to sit for questioning in a similar lawsuit.
As Law360 reports, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan tossed the suit by a pair of Saints fans who alleged the NFL and its referees had broken the fans’ trust by wrongly failing to call either pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact in favor of the Saints on a key play late in the game or later correct the mistake, calling their allegations “threadbare.”
The NFL and Goodell made no promise to the fans regarding how the game would be officiated or whether a seemingly unfair outcome would be corrected, Morgan said. Nor did the NFL have a duty to accurately tell fans how rules would be applied, even if it did tell fans that helmet-to-helmet contact and pass interference would be strictly enforced last season.
The controversy of the game and the referee call in January spurred a slew of lawsuits against the NFL. One case in Louisiana state court has gained traction, with a judge Monday ordering the NFL to comply with discovery, including depositions of Goodell and three of the referees during the game—Bill Vinovich, Patrick Turner and Gary Cavaletto.
The case tossed on Tuesday, brought by ticket holders Daniel and Barbara Ryan, had also targeted those three referees in addition to the senior vice president of officiating for the NFL, Alberto Riveron.The Ryans had argued the league had a duty to them to provide fair officiating during the season, and that they relied on those representations when they spent hundreds of dollars to attend the game in question.
They likened the missed call to a referee disregarding the game’s rules by refusing to give a team points after scoring a touchdown. The NFL argued that such claims involving dissatisfied fans are baseless because buying a ticket does not entitle a fan to anything more than the chance to attend a game. Read the full write up on the decision.