Seven New England Patriots fans have sued the NFL in an effort to reverse the decision to strip the team of a first-round pick in this month’s draft as punishment for the ‘deflategate’ scandal.
The suit filed on Tuesday in federal court in Boston says the NFL made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision to revoke the draft pick even though there is no proof that the team deliberately deflated footballs to suit Tom Brady in a play-off game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015.
Lead plaintiff and Patriots season ticket holder Todd Orsatti, of Bristol, Connecticut, said in the filing that his seven-year-old daughter was so distraught by the league’s deflategate decision that she will no longer go to games with him.
The suit is unlikely to succeed, as courts do not generally recognize fans as having standing to sue on behalf of their teams, one legal observer said.
“You can’t seek relief in court for an injury that someone else suffered,” said Josh Lewin, an attorney with Bowditch & Dewey specializing in civil litigation. “The court won’t let people do that.”
The Patriots deny any wrongdoing and owner Robert Kraft reluctantly accepted the lost draft picks, the second set for the fourth round of the 2017 draft, as well as a $1m fine, although the team successfully challenged the NFL’s effort to suspend Brady from playing in the first four games of the 2015-2016 season.