Browns fan sues NFL over lockout

Updated: March 25, 2011, 4:21 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland Browns fan sued the NFL and its teams over the player lockout, claiming it violated his contract to buy tickets through his personal seat license.

Ken Lanci, a self-made millionaire who ran unsuccessfully last year for the top county government job in Cleveland, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

"It's a fight between billionaires and millionaires," Lanci said Friday in a phone interview. "There isn't any sympathy for multimillionaires. It's just not going to happen. And somebody has to stand up and say, 'Enough's enough.' "

It's a fight between billionaires and millionaires. There isn't any sympathy for multimillionaires. It's just not going to happen. And somebody has to stand up and say, 'Enough's enough.'

-- Plaintiff Ken Lanci

The lawsuit asked for damages of more than $25,000 from the Browns on both breach of contract and bad faith counts and more than $25,000 from the league and its teams for alleged contract interference.

Neal Gulkis, a Browns spokesman, referred questions to the league.

Four NFL teams have made changes to their season-ticket plans to account for the lockout.

The New York Giants and New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills made adjustments. The Giants took the biggest step by not requiring renewals until the work stoppage ends.

Giants co-owner John Mara says his team shouldn't be singled out. He adds that "each team has its own cash situation and relationship with their ticket holders."

The Panthers added a fourth payment option: 10 percent of the renewal price due up front and 90 percent due upon the signing of a new labor agreement.

Buffalo extended its series of payments by one pay period and adjusted payment terms. The Jets deferred 50 percent of the total amount due until a training camp date is announced.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the league had not seen the Browns fan's lawsuit but understood his frustration.

"NFL clubs all have announced refund policies to protect fans during the work stoppage," Aiello wrote. "The best solution to Mr. Lanci's concern is for the union to return to the bargaining table and complete a labor agreement that will put the game back on the field where it belongs."

The lawsuit also asked for any additional unspecified damages that the court considers fair.

The case was assigned to Judge John P. O'Donnell. The league and teams have four weeks to respond in court.

Lanci claimed that the lockout denies him the right under the personal seat licenses to go to Browns games and has destroyed the value of the seat-license agreement.

The lawsuit claims the NFL and its teams have "conspired with the Browns and one another to lock out the players, without justification, resulting in the Browns' breach of the PSL agreement."

The NFL hasn't lost games to a work stoppage since 1987, when a strike shortened the season and some games included nonunion replacement players.

The main sticking point in negotiations leading up to the lockout was how to divide the NFL's more than $9 billion in annual revenues.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE