Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

New England Patriots Fans v. National Football League

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 10, 2016

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS FANS, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE; ROGER GOODELL, Commissioner, in his official and individual capacities; and ROBERT KRAFT, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT.

          F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.

         This is 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 Robert Kraft.

         The 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 be granted.

         I. Factual Background

         The complaint names seven individual plaintiffs who identify themselves as fans of the New England Patriots professional football team.[1] The plaintiffs allege that they are citizens of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Florida. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-13).

         Defendant 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. ¶ 16).

         The 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.

         The 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.

         II. Procedural History

         On 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.

         Along 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.

         Defendants 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.

         III. Legal Standard

         On a 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, respecting ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.