Seventh Circuit Relies on 116-Year-Old Case in Siding with Colts in Ticket Dispute

Sep 1, 2017

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed to the ruling of a trial court, finding that a season-ticket holder was not entitled to renew his purchase of 94 tickets for the Indianapolis Colts’ 2016 season. The panel of judges concluded that the season tickets “were revocable—by the Colts—with no duty of reimbursement.”
In 2010 the Colts established an online marketplace for owners of season tickets to the Colts’ games to transfer their season ticket rights upon payment of a fee equal to 30 percent of the sale price of the tickets. See Ticket News, “Indianapolis Colts and STR Marketplace Sign Season Ticket Deal,” July 12, 2010,
In the instant case, plaintiff Yehuda Frager bought 94 season tickets in 2015. He believed that he would be able to renew those season tickets in 2016. In fact, he believed it was his right to purchase the season tickets for the 2016 season because he had purchased the 2015 season tickets. But the Colts refused to give him season tickets for 2016, leading to the lawsuit. He alleged in a lawsuit that he was entitled to be reimbursed by the Colts for his loss. The district judge, disagreeing, dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit, with prejudice.
“The Colts argue that the season tickets that Frager obtained were revocable—by the Colts—with no duty of reimbursement,” wrote the court. “The Colts’ contract with purchasers of tickets to its games states that ‘the Colts reserve the right … to reject any order, transfer, or renewal.’ Frager had purchased season tickets for the 2015 season and had requested their renewal for the 2016 season. And so he fell squarely within the Colts’ right, that he’d agreed to by signing the contract, to reject ticket orders, transfers, and renewals.”
Frager countered that while “the Colts are free to reject any transfer, … the season ticket holder continues to own those rights if the Colts” reject the transfer. “But a season-ticket holder has no right to future season tickets unless the Colts sold them that right in the first place, and the ticket contract forecloses that possibility.
“Oddly enough, a 116-year-old opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Emery v. Boston Terminal Co., 178 Mass. 172, 59 N.E. 763 (Mass. 1901), at that time Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, demonstrates the flaw in Frager’s argument. The plaintiffs in Emery had been tenants of a property that the defendant had obtained by exercising a power of eminent domain, but their lease had expired, and though there was reason to believe that the owner would renew it, that was not enough, Holmes said, to entitle the former tenants to compensation for the taking: ‘Changeable intentions are not an interest in land … . Even if such intentions added to the salable value of the lease, the addition would represent a speculation on a chance, not a legal right.’ Id. at 765.
“And so it is here. Frager had a reasonable expectation that he’d be able to renew his season tickets for 2016. That purchasers of season tickets are willing to pay a 30 percent transfer fee in the online marketplace indicates that the expectation of renewal added to the salable value of season tickets, but given the wording of his contract with the Colts it was merely ‘a speculation on a chance, not a legal right.’”
Yehuda Frager v. Indianapolis Colts, INC.; 7th Cir; No. 16-4183, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11132; 6/22/17
Attorneys of Record: (for plaintiff) Matthew Topic, Attorney, LOEVY & LOEVY, Chicago, IL. (for defendant) Thomas A. Barnard, Attorney, TAFT STETTINIUS & HOLLISTER LLP, Indianapolis, IN.


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