Thursday, September 28, 2000

Lawsuit: Scrap Bengals seating arrangement




By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The attorney representing disgruntled season-ticket holders wants the Cincinnati Bengals to scrap the seating arrangement at Paul Brown Stadium.

        She wants the Bengals to reissue personal seat licenses and season tickets based on seniority.

NEW DEMANDS
  The amended lawsuit against the Cincinnati Bengals asks:
  • Personal seat licenses and season tickets be reissued on the basis of seniority.
  • That five new plaintiffs be added to the complaint, and all plaintiffs named so far speak for other season ticket holders not named who received less expensive and more remote seats than they paid for.
  • Damages of $300 to $500 per seat license.
  • Any season ticket holder not wishing to relocate seats should be given a refund.
  • Attorney fees and punitive damages.
        Reissuing seats was one of several demands Cincinnati attorney Janet G. Abaray made in an amended class- action complaint filed this week in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

        Five plaintiffs were added to the lawsuit filed against the Cincinnati Bengals and Hamilton County by Glenn Reedy of Miami Township, Clermont County.

        Mr. Reedy said he was overcharged $1,512 for four personal seat licenses he bought in the stadium.

        The new plaintiffs will act as representatives on behalf of other season-ticket holders who claim they received less expensive and more remote seats than ones they paid for, Ms. Abaray said.

        “The members of the class-action lawsuit are so numerous that it was impossible to list them all on the amended complaint,” said Ms. Abaray. “The number of complainants is anticipated to be in the thousands.”

        The suit claims fans were guaranteed seats in specific zones of the stadium when they bought personal seat licenses. Fans must buy seat licenses for the right to buy season tickets.

        Because the zones with the best seats were oversold, the suit alleges, zones were redrawn. Then, fans were shifted to lesser zones but have yet to receive refunds for the difference.

        The lawsuit seeks compensation for Mr. Reedy and other fans affected by what the suit alleges is defendants' “breach of contract” and “negligent misrepresentation and fraud.” The suit asks for damages of $300 to $500 per seat license, for a total of several million dollars.

        Ms. Abaray said Wednesday she thinks the Bengals also should be made to start from scratch and reissue seat licenses to season-ticket holders based on seniority.

        She said when the Bengals mailed out stadium brochures in 1996, fans were issued priority numbers based on how long they had been season-ticket holders.

        She said the priority numbers should have guaranteed longtime ticket holders seats in the zones they requested. But that didn't happen.

        Ms. Abaray alleges the Bengals assigned fans seats based on the zones they requested first and their priority numbers second.

        “You could have been season-ticket holder No.1, but if you asked for a seat in Zone D, you had to wait until everyone who requested seats in Zones A, B, and C were accommodated before your request was granted,” Ms. Abaray said. “That's not the way it was represented to fans in the original mailing.”

        In addition, Ms. Abaray is asking the court to force the Bengals to give refunds to any fans who do not want to change their seats. The suit also seeks attorneys fees and punitive damages.

        County Administrator David Krings did not return a call Wednesday to his office for comment.

        Bengals spokesman Jeff Berding said the team had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and would not comment on it.

        The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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