Cleveland Browns fan sues team over lockout


It’s bad enough that diehard football fan Ken Lanci is facing a season without professional football, as millionaires on both sides of the negotiating table fight over the massive pile of cash raked in annually by the National Football League. But the fact that the Cleveland Browns are forcing him to pay for season tickets to a season that may not take place has him taking the team to court.

Lanci is filing two motions in the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas seeking to prevent the Browns from collecting his ticket cash as long as the team is locking out its players.

“Since the NFL has not listened to reason, my aim is to pressure them through litigation to respond,” Lanci said. “These amendments ask the Court to strike down the Browns’ Lockout Ticket Policy as unconscionable because it requires season ticket holders to pay their ticket money up front, even though the Browns are participating in a lockout that prevents games from being played.”

“The litigation asks that the Browns live up to their end of the bargain and provide us games to watch this fall,” Lanci said. “Any damages collected would be donated to charity. We need to remind the NFL that the only reason they have dollars to fight over is because of the fans.”

Lanci notes that although the team has the right to collect for the tickets of the players go on strike, but argues that since it’s the owners executing a lockout that doesn’t apply in this case.

The plaintiff, who is seeking $25K in damages, concluded, “Other season ticket holders would need to file their own actions in order to receive damages, but success here almost certainly would result in success in similar actions, creating financial pressure for the NFL to settle with the players.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Imagine taking your most loyal fans, and turning them into plaintiffs against you. Well done, Cleveland Browns! It’s one thing to face down players in a labor dispute, if you have a case and are negotiating in good faith. But to co-opt the money of your customers to do so – that’s stretching it.

We imagine that some observers are rooting for the owners and some for the players in this dispute, and that many are disgusted with both sides. But Lanci has no desire to prop up the finances of the Browns in this situation, and it seems completely fair to us that he be allowed to hold on to his cash – and his seat – until such time as the team guarantees it will actually play its games as scheduled.