NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans Saints fan’s lawsuit against the NFL and game officials over the failure to call a crucial penalty against the Los Angeles Rams in a January playoff game was dismissed Friday by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
The ruling appeared to be a death blow to the last remaining lawsuit over what’s come to be known as the “NOLA No-Call.” It also means that, barring a reversal, Commissioner Roger Goodell and game officials will not have to be questioned under oath in New Orleans, as a lower court had previously ordered.
There were no dissents among the seven court members in the reversal of the lower court’s ruling.
Attorney Antonio LeMon had sued, alleging fraud and seeking damages over game officials’ failure to flag a blatant penalty: a Rams player’s helmet-to-helmet hit on a Saints receiver with a pass on the way. The lack of a penalty call for pass interference or roughness helped the Rams beat the Saints and advance to the Super Bowl.
LeMon was reviewing the decision Friday afternoon and was expected to comment later on whether he might seek a rehearing.
The unsigned opinion invoked precedent in a nearly 75-year-old case, stating that Louisiana law gives the ticket to a “place of public amusement” is a license to witness a performance. “Applying this reasoning to the case at bar, we find plaintiffs’ purchase of a ticket merely granted them the right of entry and a seat at the game,” the ruling said. “Plaintiffs have not alleged that these rights were revoked or denied in any way.”
LeMon, who filed with three other ticket-holders, had argued that the circumstances of the game — and his lawsuit — are unique. The suit wasn’t simply filed over a missed call, his filing said. Among its allegations are claims that fraud and “implicit or unconscious bias” on the part of game officials from the Los Angeles area led to the decision not to flag the penalty.
Three lawsuits over the uncalled penalty failed in federal court. Two had been filed in state court but the NFL succeeded in having them moved to federal court, based on the extent of possible damages and the interstate scope of the suits. LeMon crafted his suit to keep the NFL from having it moved, in part by limiting the damages sought to $75,000.
LeMon has said he intends for any money won to go to former Saints star Steve Gleason’s charity to aid people with neuromuscular diseases. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.