NewsCovering Louisiana


Lawyer appeals NFL no-call ruling after abuse case citation

Posted at 9:45 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 22:45:29-04

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - After the dismissal of the "Nola No-call" lawsuit against the NFL was cited by attorneys for the Roman Catholic Church in a sex abuse case, a New Orleans Saints fan said he has changed his mind and is not dropping his lawsuit after all.

Antonio Le Mon, an attorney as well as a Saints fan, sued the NFL over game officials' failure to call an obvious penalty at a crucial point in a January playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled against him, and he said he wouldn't take it farther. Now he's asked the court to reverse itself. His motion, filed Sept. 16, contends that the ruling isn't based in state or federal law but in English common law from three-quarters of a century ago.

He said in an email Thursday that he changed his mind after the Catholic Church cited the NFL decision in a request to dismiss a suit against church officials over alleged sexual abuse by a defrocked deacon.

"The ink was barely dry on that NFL dismissal when the Church's attorneys grabbed that ruling and asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to dismiss the molestation case of John Doe," he said in the email. "It troubles our group enough to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to ask that it reconsider its NOLA 'No Call' ruling granting the NFL such tort immunity."

Le Mon's lawsuit alleged fraud and sought damages over game officials' failure to flag a blatant penalty: a Rams player's helmet-to-helmet hit on a Saints receiver while a pass was 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.

A state district judge and a three-judge appeals panel had said the suit belonged in state court but the Supreme Court overruled them and threw out the lawsuit, finding that buying a ticket bought fans only "the right of entry and a seat at the game."

Judges and juries shouldn't be "second-guessing the decision taken by a professional sports league purportedly enforcing its own rules," the opinion said. The Catholic Church cited that statement in a motion to end a lawsuit filed last year by a man who says defrocked deacon George Brignac abused him. The church's motion adds, "it is certainly not the role of judges and juries to adjudicate whether or not a religious entity such as the Archdiocese has complied with its own rules, doctrines, or policies."

Le Mon's motion for reconsideration of the NFL lawsuit argues that no state or federal law grants the league immunity to suits alleging fraud, consumer law violations or unfair trade practice allegations. The court's dismissal of his lawsuit relied heavily on a 1945 state Supreme Court decision involving theater tickets and on other cases also based on English common law limiting the remedies available to English ticket holders ejected from or not allowed into a theater, he wrote.

Such reasoning is incorrect, violates the state constitution "and can set a dangerous precedent," he said, noting the Catholic Church's motion.

Only a law passed by the legislature should grant immunity from lawsuits, and Louisiana's consumer protection law does not exempt the NFL or any other professional sports league, Le Mon wrote.

"The NFL did openly represent in commerce" that officials would enforce rules, but three game officials who were sued are accused of "purposefully and fraudulently" failing to do so, according to the motion.