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One football fan has dodged the NFL’s first line of defense in a lawsuit alleging the league breached the terms of the Game Pass service when Super Bowl LIV experienced streaming interruptions. On Tuesday, a New York federal judge allowed Sietel Singh Gill to move forward in his case.
Gill is attempting to lead a class action comprised of between 300,000-700,000 individuals in about 181 countries who paid the equivalent of approximately $200 for the service only to be disappointed by technical issues at crucial moments during the 2020 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
The NFL attempted to stop the lawsuit before discovery with arguments pinned to Gill’s failure to attach the Game Pass contract to his complaint. Given Gill’s inability to produce right away the 2013 Terms and Conditions (his service was apparently automatically renewed annually since he first signed up), the NFL attacked the plaintiff’s attempt to apply New York law against it rather than Australian law (given how Gill is Australian) against the tech vendors recently operating the service on behalf of the league.
With respect to whether Gill had actually made a deal with those tech companies and hadn’t established contractual privity between the parties in this litigation, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer isn’t ready to make a determination yet.
“Discovery will, presumably, bear out the identity of the entity or entities that were contractually responsible to subscriber Gill — at the outset of Gill’s subscription to Game Pass and, critically, during 2019-2020, when he claims the service outage during the Super Bowl,” writes the judge. “The pleadings and cognizable materials, at least as furnished to date, are not dispositive on that point.”
Without a contract, the NFL also wished to tackle the suit over Gill’s failure to identify specific provisions that were flouted.
But Engelmayer says Gill’s complaint “clearly sets out [the NFL’s] central contractual obligation (to livestream NFL games, including the Super Bowl) and their asserted breach (the failure to do so without interruption),” and that, at this juncture, this is adequate.
Finally, as the case proceeds, the judge also rules it’s premature to address the suitability for this suit being the vehicle for a class action. See full decision here.
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