A lifelong Yankee fan and 23-year season ticket holder is suing Steiner Sports and the New York Yankees over the way the two parties have handled sales of old Yankee Stadium memorabilia. In the class action suit filed yesterday in federal court, John Lefkus says he paid $2000 for his season ticket seats only to receive a different set of Yankee Stadium chairs. He is alleging deceptive acts and practices and false advertiser, among other charges, and is asking for both injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
According to the complaint, found in full below, earlier this year, Lefkus tried to take advantage of an offer from Steiner Sports to purchase his specific season seats. For $500 extra, he could buy Seats 1 and 2 in Row A of the Main Reserve section 11. According to Steiner’s literature, the special-order normal seats would come completely unrefurbished with the original seat, seatback and arm rests. To verify the seats, all orders were to come with a Letter of Authenticity from Steiner Sports and the Yankees.
When Lefkus’ seats arrived, nearly three months after he placed the order, he was dismayed to discover that his seats were refurbished. According to the complaint, “their original paint was stripped and the seats were repainted in a different hue from original.” He alleges that, during the dismantling, seats “were not properly cataloged or organized and as a result seats sold as specific seat pairs could not in fact have been provided because [Steiner] did not adequately record which seat parts came from which locations and because the seats themselves were dismantled and later reassembled without regard to which seat part went with which seats.”
In the complaint, Lefkus included a pictorial comparison of the two seats, and the differences are striking. The delivered seats are indeed a different color than the seats were in the Stadium; the numbers on the seats do not properly correspond to Lefkus’ order; and the alleged Seat 1 was not delivered as an aisle seat while the alleged Seat 2 was.
Furthermore, Lefkus’ complaint an admission by Steiner’s agents that “no effective tagging system was used to maintain the integrity of the offer to buy specific seats.” Due to these admissions and the fact that the seats come with a signed guarantee of authenticity, Lefkus is also alleging a breach of implied and express warranty on behalf of the class.
As of press time I could not reach Steiner Sports for comment. I believe, however, Lefkus’ complaint rests on solid ground. He seems to have evidence and admissions from Steiner that buttress his case. He is purporting to represent all buyers of Yankee Stadium seats, and although Steiner and the Yanks may attempt to challenge the class, Lefkus’ lawyers probably have a strong case for certification. (Ed. Note: For a detailed explanation of what this means legally, check out this comment from someone with real-world legal experience.)
In my unqualified opinion — as a law student, I am barred from offering legal advice and have a limited knowledge of the questions of law presented here — I anticipate a settlement in this case. It sounds as though Steiner Sports and the Yanks did not do an adequate job removing and cataloging seats from the old Stadium, and it sounds as though it is far too late to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, as potential buyers get wind of this lawsuit, they may not be so keen on dropping $2000 on a pair of seats that may not be the ones they believe they are buying.
In addition to monetary damages, Lefkus has asked for the court to order an end to Steiner’s allegedly deceptive advertising and marketing practices. How that charge plays out in a settlement is open for debate, but right now, I’m glad I didn’t try to buy my favorite seats from old Yankee Stadium.
After the jump, read the complaint in full.