The lawsuit against the National Football League and the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game earlier this month was dropped in U.S. District Court in Ohio and filed in California.
The new lawsuit, Herrick v. National Football League et al., was filed on Tuesday on behalf of a class of ticket holders in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Law360 reported.
The preseason Hall of Fame Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts in Canton, Ohio, was cancelled hours before kickoff on Aug. 7 because of poor field conditions at Tom Benson Stadium. Paint on portions of the Hall of Fame logo in the middle of the field melted, causing concern that players’ cleats would stick on the artificial turf.
The new lawsuit includes recent comments made by Colts punter Pat McAfee, who said he and other players were told not to post on social media that the game was cancelled.
“In addition to failing to inform fans that the game would be canceled, defendants purposely took affirmative steps to keep the fans in the dark,” the complaint said, according to Law360. “McAfee reported that, ‘We weren’t allowed to tweet after we found out that the game was canceled, we weren’t allowed to make the announcement. It was kind of hush-hush ... there was a big no tweeting policy, nobody’s allowed to say s---.’”
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented the class in the Ohio lawsuit and is now representing the class in the California lawsuit, said on Pro Football Talk’s “PFT Live” show on NBC Sports Radio, “I know fraud occurred,” claiming the NFL and the Hall of Fame told the Colts and Packers 90 minutes before kickoff that the game was cancelled.
“People are coming out of the woodwork now and providing us with facts and evidence that shows no question that fraud occurred on behalf of the league and the Hall of Fame,” Avenatti said in the interview. “The reason why we know that now is because, for instance, Pat McAfee on the morning after the game gave a podcast during which he described exactly what he witnessed in connection with the cancellation of the game.
“The Hall of Fame and the league have yet to provide an answer to the following very basic question: Why did you tell the players, personnel and ESPN that the game was cancelled but you waited an hour and a half, two hours to tell the fans? They don’t have an answer for that question.”
The Hall of Fame said in an email to Pro Football Talk that the implication that it defrauded fans in any way “is totally baseless.”
The lawsuit filed in California removes the Ohio suit’s class of an estimated 50 ticket holders who were never assigned seats in the stadium. The new class consists of more than 100 California residents who bought tickets to the game, Law360 reported. Lead plaintiff Greg Herrick, a Los Angeles resident, traveled from L.A. to Canton with his wife to see the game and paid $1,000 for two tickets, according to the report.