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    Lawyers skeptical of suit over Rams' Super Bowl loss

    By Robert Patrick

    St. Louis How much would it be worth if you could prove your team was cheated out of a Super Bowl win? How much for a player? How much for a fan? How much for a gambler?

    A lawyer in Louisiana and two in Ohio are trying to find out on behalf of at least two St. Louis area men and one former player for the 2002 Super Bowl-losing St. Louis Rams.

    Styling themselves the underdogs, the lawyers say it may come down to a race against the National Football League to elicit help from ex-New England Patriots employee Matt Walsh, and videotapes he may have.

    But legal experts who looked at the case this week were skeptical beginning with the challenge of proving there was cheating and, if so, that it changed the game's outcome.

    The case which names the Patriots, team owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick is rooted in allegations that the Patriots spied on opposing teams via videotape for years, in violation of NFL rules. The team and Belichick already were fined $750,000 by the league for taping the New York Jets in 2007, but they denied taping the Rams or other teams.

    Earlier this month, Rams President John Shaw said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told him "there was no new information that would suggest anything contrary to what was said by the Patriots."

    Last week, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who is investigating the allegations, said Goodell told him the Patriots have been taping since 2000.

    Walsh has balked at cooperating with an inquiry without legal protections that his lawyer said the NFL has not yet provided. Specter told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the civil suit may offer the shield Walsh needs.

    On Friday, lawyers filed a civil suit in federal court in New Orleans, where Super Bowl XXXVI was played, seeking approval as a class action to represent thousands of fans who attended the game, owners of Rams personal seat licenses, and players and employees of the team.

    The Rams were favored to win the Feb. 4, 2002, game, but suffered three turnovers and lost 20-17 on a Patriots field goal with seconds left.

    The suit was filed on behalf of former Rams player Willie Gary, loyal fan Peter Trout of St. Charles, who has owned two personal seat licenses since 1995, Super Bowl attendee Marcus Miller of Collinsville, and Cincinnati ticket broker Kevin Hacker.

    Miller and Trout could not be reached for comment, and their lawyers declined to make them available.

    On Sunday night, Belichick again denied the accusations, telling The Boston Globe he never saw another team's practice in his entire career.

    Lawyers filed an amended suit Tuesday, seeking to add all NFL teams that were injured or had losses, and their personal seat license holders.

    "We were cheated out of a Super Bowl," lawyer Hugh Campbell claimed.

    The suit does not cite specific total damages, but the alleged losses just for the Super Bowl top $35 million. Intangibles like the loss of commercial endorsements for players could kick it higher.

    The suit seeks a $400 face-value ticket refund for the 72,922 fans at the game, and compensation for the $25,000 bonus difference between winning and losing players, plus loss of jewel-encrusted winners' rings.

    The suit invokes the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which could triple the damages.

    Campbell said Wednesday he received 20 e-mails from interested personal seat license holders after appearing on a St. Louis radio show.

    Plaintiffs lawyer Eric Deters said Monday afternoon he has been contacted by two other Rams players from the game and gamblers who bet on it.

    If you found out that the game was rigged or a team had cheated, Deters asked rhetorically, "Would you have wanted to in any way played the game or watched the game? You would say no."

    Deters said he was unaware of any other cases like his, but said he ran the concept past other lawyers, plus a current and a former judge.

    "I don't take a case unless I can win it," he said.

    But Dean Lawrence Dessem of the University of Missouri Law School said in an e-mail after reviewing the suit, "If I were a member of this class action, I wouldn't start counting any recovery quite yet."

    He noted, "While plaintiffs allege that 'but for the videotaping the results of the game would have been different,' that will be difficult to prove in a court of law."

    Douglas Abrams, an associate law professor at Mizzou who has written a book about the civil aspects of the RICO statute, said this case was "one of the headline grabbers" but likely to be dismissed quickly by a judge.

    Abrams said that by law, only the most immediate victim can sue under RICO.

    "It might be the National Football League. It might be the St. Louis Rams," he said. "But it most certainly is not some guy who happened to play on the Rams or someone who bought a ticket to go to the game."

    Abrams echoed Dessem.

    "They would have to prove that the filming caused the defeat," Abrams said. "I don't think there's any way to prove that."

    Campbell is undeterred. He said the goal is to get to Walsh first, with a subpoena.

    Specter told The Associated Press, "I think now that the lawsuits have been started, that I got the ball rolling, and the plaintiffs lawyers are picking it up."

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Lawyers skeptical of suit over Rams' Super Bowl loss

    Although the Patriots pulled off a huge upset of the RAMS in SUPERBOWL XXXVI, I find it very hard to prove that taping was the reason. Especially since the Giants just upset the heavily favored Patriots in the last SUPERBOWL.

    Let me type that again:

    The GIANTS UPSET the heavily favored Patriots!!!!

    That feels so good!!!!

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    Re: Lawyers skeptical of suit over Rams' Super Bowl loss

    I agree but if proved that there was taping then whether it changed the outcome of the game or not, is not in question. Its that they cheated and I always like to see cheaters brought to book.

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    Re: Lawyers skeptical of suit over Rams' Super Bowl loss

    Quote Originally Posted by RamDez View Post
    I agree but if proved that there was taping then whether it changed the outcome of the game or not, is not in question. It's that they cheated and I always like to see cheaters brought to book.

    The New England Cheaters. I tell you, this is all a lot of fun!

    Seriously, it IS rather amusing and at the same time satisfying, yes? More than mere press and publicity for the the NEPs, it is creating some bad reputation (a la Britney Spears) for the so called Dynasty. It cheapens the cheaters (like a cheap Britney Spears, millionaire and all). They will not be stripped of their rings but it definitely does demerit their image.

    The asterisk that some of us have called for may not appear next to those SBs but many NFL fans, especially Rams fans, will know it belongs there and will remember it for a long time.

    PS: Thanks Dez / Mods, for the nice pictures of Auntie Georgia here on the Clan site.
    Last edited by RealRam; -02-22-2008 at 03:41 PM. Reason: PS

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