Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Suing for Seats

New York lawyer Judd Burstein is a Mets fan. He's so big a fan that he bought season tickets for 2008 and 2009, based on what he believes was a promise from the Mets that his seats in Citi Field would be just as good as his field seats at Shea. Turns out the Mets had other ideas, and plan on sticking him in the upper deck out in left field. Usually when, in the course of human events, a lawyer feels ripped off, that lawyer is going to sue. This situation falls squarely within the course of human events:

In the suit, which Burstein will file today in Manhattan Supreme Court, he claims he got a letter last year urging him to renew his tickets with the promise he'd get "priority" seats at Citi Field. "Plainly, the Mets lied when they promised 'priority,' " he wrote. "Rather, they took money and then allowed thousands of others to jump the line."
While the facts seem generally to be in his favor -- there are more field seats in Citi than in Shea, and they are giving him seats that are actually cheaper in Citi than the ones he had in Shea -- I'm curious how the actual contract interpretation would work here. Tell me: what does the phrase "priority seats" mean to you? Isn't "priority" a noun requiring some modification? First priority? Low priority? "Meh" priority? Obviously, if you were in his position you might expect to get comparable seats in the new ballpark, so my guess is that he'll win, but tell me: wouldn't you want to clarify that a bit before plunking down some $34K for a couple of year's worth of tickets? This guy is supposed to be some sharp lawyer. I'm merely a mediocre lawyer, but I'd like to think I'd require a bit more detail about what, exactly, "priority" meant before I went and spent all that money.

Of course part of being a mediocre lawyer means that you don't have the kind of money to simply throw at entertainment like Burstein does, so maybe our caution levels differ.

More to the point, mediocre lawyers don't get all suey every time we feel the world slights us. Maybe that's a good thing in the abstract. But it also means that between now and Spring, our hero here will become the owner of some really nice seats at Citi field and some extra money in his pocket, while I continue to wonder why life is often difficult for me.


Jason @ IIATMS said...

"get all suey"?

I smell a new blog/posting from you, a la "And That Happened"

"Get Your Suey On"

Michael said...

I'm not sure this is a case he should be winning, since all the Mets would have to say is that these are the best available or that priority is too ambiguous of a word, but he'll probably win nonetheless.

Rob said...

I expect (and I'm sure the lawyer here expects) that this won't get close to a trial, and there will be a nice undisclosed settlement amenable to both parties.

Interesting to me though that someone would pay so much money without knowing the location of the seats for '09. That's just kind of stupid, no?

Pete Toms said...

I've been to Shea once and wasn't in a box. ( We bought nosebleeds and then blew by one of the elderly ushers in the 100 level and enjoyed the game from there but I digress ). However, aren't the Shea boxes located in the nether regions of the stadium? My point is, @ CitiField the high end boxes will be located in the prime real estate behind home plate / on the infield. Obviously, to accommodate this a lot of Shea ticket holders are gonna be moved a lot further away from the plate than they are accustomed to. As many of us ( including Craig ) keep pointing out, this is part of the trend of clubs catering to the corporate crowd to max revenues. Yeah, it's a business but with pro sports franchises receiving big public subsidies ( ok, handouts ), this issue could be an increasingly political hot potatoe. ( I feel like Dan Quayle, is that the US or Cdn spelling? ) ( I.E. The Yank are taking a lot of heat over this ).

Anonymous said...


Burstein is an excellent lawyer and is known particularly for representing boxers and promoters. He is probably one of the top two boxing attorneys.

LC said...

Rob, even us Washington Nationals season ticket holders have to show the team the money before we get assigned our exact seats. Of course, it is not as though Burstein is being charged for the primo seats, yet sent packing to the upper deck. I suspect that he was a bit careless when placing the order. He should have been on the phone with a Mets ticket rep and gone through this, step-by-step.