NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:34 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a class-action lawsuit that a New Orleans Saints season-ticket holder filed against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the league's bounty investigation.
The suit claimed the NFL's sanctions against the team over its alleged system of offering cash bonuses to Saints players for big hits punished season ticket holders more than anyone else and sought more than $5 million in damages.
U.S. District Judge Helen "Ginger" Berrigan rejected the notion that Saints ticket holders were the only ones who could have experienced "mental suffering" from the team's disappointing 7-9 record this season.
"Rather, that agony has been much more widely felt by the Who Dat Nation," Berrigan wrote in her ruling, which came only days before New Orleans hosts Sunday's Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.
Season-ticket holder David James Mancina claimed he and other ticket holders were entitled to compensation for the diminished vale of their tickers and their "personal emotional reaction to the unwarranted penalties inflicted on their beloved team, players, coaches, and executives."
Berrigan, however, said Mancina hadn't provided any legal support for the argument that a "sport fan has rights greater than those of a spectator, regardless of how ardent his team devotion may be."
Berrigan also presided over lawsuits that Saints players filed against Goodell and the league over their suspensions. The player suspensions eventually were overturned, but the coaches served their punishments.
Earlier this month, Berrigan dismissed Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit against Goodell. She referenced the other cases in her ruling Wednesday.
"First, as this court has previously stated, even if the process surrounding 'Bountygate' was initially procedurally flawed, it resulted in a revised discipline accepted by those involved based on the finding that 'conduct detrimental' to the game of football had occurred," she wrote. "In addition, the only distinction between a ticket holder who is a fan and a ticketless fan is the ticket holder's right to entry and seating at the game granted by the license."