Judge Told Allowing Sports Fans to Sue Over Undisclosed Injuries Would Lead to Chaos

HBO and those involved in setting up the "Fight of the Century" are in court battling viewers who demanded refunds after paying for the underwhelming Mayweather-Pacquiao bout.

The boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao on May 2, 2015, hardly lived up to its billing as "the Fight of the Century," and more than 15 months later, attorneys are duking it out in court over whether those who purchased tickets or watched the pay-per-view telecast deserve refunds over the lack of disclosure about Pacquiao's shoulder injury.

On Tuesday, attorneys for Pacquiao, Top Rank, HBO and others brought a big move to dismiss 26 class actions in the multidistrict litigation process, telling the judge that the "unalterable legal truth is that Plaintiffs received exactly what they paid for — an opportunity to see the fight card that night, regardless of whether the fights were 'good' or 'bad,' whether the participants were '100%' healthy, or whether Plaintiffs would have purchased anything had they been told one fighter had injured his shoulder in training."

Mayweather and Pacquiao went the 12-round distance that night, but the lack of knockdowns and a unanimous decision in favor of Mayweather led to the general perception that the fight between two of the most distinguished boxers in the past half-century had failed to produce a close or exciting spectacle.

Nevertheless, in the face of throngs of class-action lawyers who have stepped into the legal ring to challenge the marketing of the fight on various theories, the defendants are urging the court to get past allegations of injury concealment and reject these so-called "disappointed fan" cases. 

Represented by Daniel Petrocelli and others at O'Melveny & Myers, the defendants point to past cases they say stand for the principle that fans got what they paid for. Among those old suits is one where Mike Tyson allegedly "formulated a scheme" to be disqualified rather than suffer a potentially career-ending injury; another where the New England Patriots allegedly got in the way of an "honest" competition with the New York Jets by secretly taping their opponents' signals; and a third involving a Formula One race where 14 cars pulled out over dangerous track conditions.

"There is not a single case from any jurisdiction where a class of sports fans has been allowed to proceed with claims based on allegedly undisclosed injuries, rules violations, secret schemes to cheat, or the like," state the defendants in their motion to dismiss. "Accepting Plaintiffs' core liability theory would require this Court to make sweeping new law. But, as one court warned when rejecting a similar theory, doing so would lead to chaos, as it 'would enable any ticket holder not satisfied with the performance' to sue."

If that warning isn't dire enough, the defendants are happy to provide some specific examples. The brief continues:

"Courts would be awash with cases alleging fraud when, for instance, NFL quarterback Tom Brady throws an interception due to a cut on his hand that happened earlier that week but was never mentioned; or Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw gives up four runs because his back flared up in a bullpen session a full days earlier and he told only his doctor; or NBA star Steph Curry misses a game-winning three-pointer because he sprained his ankle in practice and told no one; or an understudy appears in a play when a scheduled performer fell ill a few days before. There is no basis, logic, or policy for such a dramatic expansion of the law."

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