United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO
DISMISS AND PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THE
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
an action purportedly arising out of the National Football
League’s handling of the "Deflategate" matter
involving the New England Patriots professional football team
and its quarterback, Tom Brady, in which the NFL penalized
the Patriots with a fine and the loss of two draft picks. The
complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs who refer to
themselves collectively as "New England Patriots
Fans." The named defendants are the National Football
League, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Patriots owner
complaint asserts multiple causes of action based on the
conduct of the NFL and Goodell and Kraft’s alleged
failure to challenge the penalties imposed. The NFL and
Goodell have moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds
that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction; that the
plaintiffs lack standing; and that the complaint otherwise
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Defendant Kraft has filed a separate motion to dismiss for
the same reasons. After filing an opposition to
defendants’ motions, plaintiffs have now moved for
leave to amend the complaint. For the following reasons,
plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the complaint
will be denied, and defendants’ motions to dismiss will
complaint names seven individual plaintiffs who identify
themselves as fans of the New England Patriots professional
football team. The plaintiffs allege that they are
citizens of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and
Florida. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-13).
National Football League is a professional football league
with a principal place of business in New York. (Id.
¶ 14). Defendant Roger Goodell is the Commissioner of
the NFL and resides in New York. (Id. ¶ 15).
Defendant Robert Kraft is the owner of the New England
Patriots and resides in Massachusetts. (Id. ¶
bulk of the complaint details the NFL’s investigation
of the Patriots and Brady for allegedly deflating footballs
used in a 2015 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
(Compl. ¶¶ 18-45). Following the investigation, the
NFL penalized the Patriots with a $1, 000, 000 fine and the
loss of two draft picks-a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL
draft and a fourth-round pick in 2017. The Patriots franchise
did not formally challenge those penalties.
complaint asserts that as a result of defendants’
conduct, plaintiffs have been "deprived of their
team’s first round draft choice." (Id.
¶ 47). All plaintiffs assert that they have faced
"embarrassment, ridicule and depression."
(Id. ¶ 79). One plaintiff further asserts that
he is a season-ticket holder, and that his seven-year-old
daughter "will no longer go to games with him because
she thinks the games are fixed by the NFL, " leaving him
"devastated." (Id. ¶ 7). No other
individual plaintiff asserts any specific additional injury.
April 5, 2016, plaintiffs filed an "expedited"
complaint asserting eight causes of action: (1) unfair
competition in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer
Protection Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A; (2) breach of
contract; (3) tortious interference with contractual
relations; (4) fraud; (5) negligence; (6) intentional
infliction of emotional distress; (7) negligent infliction of
emotional distress; and (8) violation of the federal
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C.
§ 1961 et seq. The complaint alleges
federal-question jurisdiction based on the RICO claim.
with the complaint, plaintiffs filed a motion pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 65 requesting a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction that would have required the NFL to
restore the Patriots’ first-round draft choice in the
NFL draft held April 28, 2016. The Court denied that motion
on April 8, 2016.
moved to dismiss the claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) on the
grounds that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and
the plaintiffs lack standing, and under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)
on the ground that the complaint fails to state a claim for
which relief can be granted. After responding to those
motions, plaintiffs moved for leave to amend the complaint.
motion to dismiss, the Court "must assume the truth of
all well-plead[ed] facts and give . . . plaintiff the benefit
of all reasonable inferences therefrom." Ruiz v.
Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., 496 F.3d 1, 5 (1st
Cir. 2007) (citing Rogan v. Menino, 175 F.3d 75, 77
(1st Cir. 1999)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the
complaint must state a claim that is plausible on its face.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, . . .
on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint
are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at
555 (citations omitted). "The plausibility standard is
not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ’ but it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Dismissal is appropriate if the complaint fails to set forth
"factual allegations, either direct or inferential,