Steiner Sports, Yanks sued over stadium seat sales

Linkage: Chapman, Kikuchi, HOF, PitchFX
Locker Blogger interviews Kevin Long

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.

Lefkus v Steiner Sports

email
Linkage: Chapman, Kikuchi, HOF, PitchFX
Locker Blogger interviews Kevin Long
  • Arman Tamzarian

    The Yankees really need to work on their disregard for their fan base

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      This just sounds like it was unnecessarily sloppy work from Steiner and the Yanks though. If these allegations are true, it was a very avoidable situation.

      • Arman Tamzarian

        Agreed, and that’s what seems frustrating. Given the nature of what their doing, marketing specific items, there seemed to be an absence of care for their work

    • Chris

      You would think so, but the Yankees still manage to maintain a rabid fanbase and draw in tons of revenue even with the way they act. If it’s worked so far, why would you change?

      • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Just because they’ve drawn support in the past doesn’t mean they can treat people poorly and expect that support to never wane (case in point, empty seats in YS3 all season and into the playoffs).

        And I can, without much effort at all, think of reasons why the Yankees should try to treat their fans well, even if they’re (hypothetically) making money while not treating them as well as they could/should. Reason 1 – It’s better to treat people well than to treat them poorly. Reason 2 – You’re more likely to engender loyalty in your fans and receive their continued support, in the future, if you treat them well.

        Treating people, who you rely on for support, poorly, just because you can get away with it, is an awful business plan.

        • jsbrendog

          at some point in the future, the yankees will lose, and they will end up being somewhat bad. It is at that time that the disrespect and mishandling of the fan base might finally come back to haunt them.

          • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Yup.

            To be fair, clearly the best way for the Yankees to treat their fans well is to invest their resources into fielding the best team possible, but there’s certainly something to be said for treating people well and fairly, too. The concept of loyalty works both ways.

            • jsbrendog

              definitely. some of my best memories come from the time the stadium was empty and i’d be watching danny tartabull, mel hall, matt nokes, et al lose because they had to be nice and treat fans well or they wouldn’t have come back. and that was when most games were on wpix and they were just starting to show them on msg i believe. as msg siphoned them away from wpix and slowly led into yes i feel the treatment of the fans has deteriorated in direct proportions

  • thurdonpaul

    wow, thats very sad, some folks are gonna be very upset, i dont blame them !!
    you pay a small fortune and you still get ripped off ??
    George, are you there ??
    this needs to be corrected, quickly, and with some class George

    • andrew

      George has nothing to do with this
      This is Steiner’s job, not the Steinbrenners.

      • Arman Tamzarian

        Didn’t the Yankees purchase the rights to sell pieces of the stadium?

        • andrew

          The Yankees purchased the rights to sell the pieces of the stadium from NYC. The Yankees have a deal with Steiner that gives him exclusive rights to selling this merchandise. From what I understand, the Yankees themselves having little/nothing to do with the actual storing and merchandising of the product. Steiner pays the Yankees to sell their products, the Yankees get a cut of the money.

      • thurdonpaul

        thats true, but the seats are from Yankee Stadium, right ?

        George and family own the Yankees, right ?

        this should be settled quickly and with some class, by the Steinbrenners, they should step in and get this resolved, without it dragging out in the courts !!

        • andrew

          I was just commenting on the fact that George has almost nothing to do (from what I’ve gathered) with the day to day operations of the Yankees

          • thurdonpaul

            well, to me, this is a trust issue and if the owners of a team would not get involved in this, then they are setting themselves up to lose lots of loyal fans, me possibly being one of them

            im just saying, they need to straighten this out quickly and with class, no bs

            • andrew

              I’m sure the Yankees will be involved in the upcoming weeks and months in sorting everything out. Will George be in any way involved? Probably not. Also, from the sounds of it, this is more an issue with Steiner than with the Yankees Org. Although this whole episode reflects poorly on the organization, I don’t necessarily think that is fair, as it was/is Steiner’s job to package all of these things and make sure the customer is happy. But yes, I’m sure we would all love to see this resolved quickly and without conflict.

              • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

                I don’t necessarily think that is fair, as it was/is Steiner’s job to package all of these things and make sure the customer is happy.

                They position themselves as a top sports memorabilia company. It’s their job to package these things and make sure everything is a-OK.

                • andrew

                  They position themselves as a top sports memorabilia company. It’s their job to package these things and make sure everything is a-OK.

                  Sorry. I was unclear. I was referring to the criticism of the Steinbrenner’s to be unfair. I have no problem with criticizing Steiner. I just meant that the Yankees organization is not to blame here.

                • thurdonpaul

                  andrew, i wasnt clear either, i wasnt criticizing the Steinbrenners either, i just feel that they should step up and take care of this quickly.

              • thurdonpaul

                i would bet the George of years ago would be involved and would do what had to be done to get this taken care of quickly
                how about this……Hal ? are you listening Hal ??

                do the right thing Hal, dont let this drag on !!

  • jay destro

    sounds like Steiner to me.

  • A.D.

    Steiner collectibles asleep at the switch.

    • Salty Buggah

      Channeling their inner Torre.

  • Mike HC

    It is too bad the problem can’t really be corrected. It seems odd that it probably cost Steiner more money to refurbish the seats than just keep them in their original condition. Who knows what happened here. I hope the buyers get fairly compensated though.

  • crapulent aka I said good day sir

    Ben, this is in no way to be disrespectful or anything because in my opinion law school doesn’t give you one iota of a clue as to how anything works in real life, but just to clear up the class motion thing: the well-pleaded complaint rule is a procedural matter. It doesn’t speak to the legitimacy of the assertions contained therein.

    Plaintiff won’t move for class certification for many months (maybe as much as a year) after the complaint.

    After the Complaint if filed, the Defense will answer and probably move to dismiss. The court will probably deny. They will take discovery including a request for admissions and depositions etc then after discovery is complete (could be months, could be years), the plaintiff will move for class certification. For a class to be certified, plaintiff has to file a Rule 23 Motion for Class Certification which is very different from a complaint and tell the Court how the class meets the Rule 23(a) requirements (numerosity, commonality etc) and at least one requirement of Rule 23(b).

    And the defense will oppose. At some point after discovery is taken (either before the class cert hearing or after) the defense will move for summary judgment and the plaintiff will oppose.

    And it will all go on for years.

    In law school they never tell you that this is how it works in real life, but this is how it works in real life. I’m honestly not trying to be a blowhard in explaining all this.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      You’re definitely not coming off as a blowhard. That’s the part of the procedural rules that, while I studied them last year with Arthur Miller, I don’t really understand. I appreciate the explanation and should probably try to find a source with a better understanding of legal procedure than I for when we come across stories such as this one.

      Update (4:17 p.m.): I just edited the post, with a link back to your comment, to clear up the legal confusion by the way.

      • crapulent aka I said good day sir

        They teach you everything in BARBRI. Honestly. I was thoroughly confused until I studied for the bar.

      • Law School Drop-Out

        I quit law school because of procedures. What a life it must be to deal with this stuff every day.

        Anyway – I came here to get the lineups for the game. When do they come out????

        • Joey

          http://yankees.lhblogs.com/ has them

          RAB posts line-ups in game thread which come out generally about 15-30 min before the game

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Our game thread will be up at 7 p.m. with the lineups.

          • BMB

            BarBri is totally where it’s at – despite having good grades in school, I learned 75% of the law I know in those few summer weeks. How sad is that?

            • Mike HC

              Its sad. Law school is basically an artificial barrier/waiting room to get into the profession, so lawyers can charge their inflated prices. Like you said, it would take someone about two weeks to learn everything pertinent you get from three years of law school.

              • V

                Agreed. I have to know a large chunk of the internal revenue code inside and out, all pertinent regulations and additional guidance, etc., to do my job, and I feel comfortable enough (as a layman) when reading unrelated law, but if I want to be a Lawyer, I have to go to school for three more years? Pass. I will probably go for an MBA and MS in mathematics (joint program) after I get my FSA and CFA.

                Accounting has similar BS to become a CPA.

    • thurdonpaul

      i am not doubting you in the least crapulent, but if this particular case drags out for years, i think its complete bullshit !!

      the Steinbrenners need to get this fixed, without all the court baloney, imo

      if you are paying good money for something, that is what you should receive !!

      i dont get pissed off easily, but this is ridiclous, $ 2,000. and they give you whatever they feel like giving you ??!!

    • Tom Zig

      Civil Procedure gives me nightmares

  • CanoFTW

    Steiner Sports with the great timing – just got an email from yankees.com about buying authentic memorabilia.

  • Tank Foster

    Evil Steiner Sports CEO: So, gentleman, has anyone come up with an idea on how we can fleece these memorabilia imbeciles for even more money than they already throw us (pauses to throw handfulls of gold bullion coins into the air, look skyward, and laugh derisively)?

    Attractive blonde executive assistant: Well, we could offer to sell them their specific seats.

    Harvard grad, Mid-Level Steiner Employee: How the hell can we do that Bubbles? The seats are in a pile outside of the Secaucus landfill.

    Evil Steiner Sports CEO: Wait wait wait hold on there, boys, I like this idea…THINK…there must be a way.

    Rutgers grad, Mid-Level Steiner Employee: I’ll call some of my friends and take care of it. Just take the orders and send me a seating chart. We’ll touch up the seats and put the right numbers on them. Heh….like somebody’s gonna know which seats are which? Fuhgedddaboutit!

    Evil Steiner Sports CEO: Yes! I like it! I’m promoting you! We can even sell the Jeffrey Maier seat, like, 30 times, and charge extra for it! Hookers for everyone! Somebody order some calamari and get a few Magnums of Dom up here NOW!

    [All room participants pause to throw handfulls of bullion coin and bearer bonds into the air, laughing derisively.]

    • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Sadly this probably isn’t too far divorced from reality.

    • jsbrendog

      i would like to include a monocle

      • All praise be to Mo

        and a cat with no hair…

  • wilcymoore

    Good work on this, Ben. I agree that even if Steiner Sports is principally responsible, their handling of the seat sales reflects poorly on the Yankees. The Stein-BRENNER family needs to bring someone from Stein-ER into their offices and give them a good dressing-down.

    Then they both need to rectify this.

    • thurdonpaul

      wilcy, i agree 1,000%

  • Jordan

    If you look at the seats in a Steiner Sports store, like the one in Roosevelt Field on LI, there’s no way anyone (that frequents this website anyway) would buy them for the price they are. You’re essentially paying for the seat back and seat itself and the arms are a totally different color and material.

    I asked about them in the store to see what the deal was with how refurbished they look and the guys behind the counter knew little to nothing about them other than to point me to the phone number to call about them.

    Steiner markets itself as being by far the best in the business and it’s obvious their prices are inflated, but a customer expects to get top quality in return for top dollar. This is clearly a case where Steiner gets exposed for its shortcomings. You can sell as much freeze dried kentucky blue grass as you want, no one cares when your big ticket items are overpriced and not the quality you guarantee.

  • BC

    This is ridiculous, I was considering buying a pair. I don’t like dealing with Steiner, and that was the deciding factor with me. Look’s like I made the right decision. Steiner has always appeared to be a bunch of crooks too me.

  • HC

    Brandon Steiner is a dirtbag- I hate seeing that sliny swindler and his ugly mug on my TV. Get rid of him as a Yankee celebrity. He’s a clown.

  • Nick Corcodilos

    I don’t know a lot about the business of baseball, but I know John Lefkus. We met when he got involved with me in complex municipal land-use lawsuit against a massive corporation. Guess who won? I put my money on Lefkus. If I were Steinbrenner, I’d deliver a whole row of seats from the first baseline to Lefkus’s house and throw in a dozen lifetime tickets, or suffer the consequences.

    • Jon DelRusso

      I bought a pair of seats and noticed right away that the arms looked like they were refurbished. I called the Steiner offices and was assured they were not refurbished in any way. I’m pissed. I spent a lot of money and was told a lie. I would like to join John Lefkus in his fight. How can i get involved?

  • Pingback: Fan Confidence Poll: October 26th, 2009 | River Avenue Blues

  • Read The Description

    It says right on the Steiner Sports website when ordering yankee seats “Seats may differ from shown, the arms on the seats have gone through a lead abatement process and have been re-painted.” I dont see Lefkus’s arguement.

    • Hip Hip Jorge

      Now it says that, up until a few days ago it stated that the seats were unrefurbished.

      • Jon DelRusso

        That description is entirely different from what was written a few days ago and when i purchased the seats. The original description said they were not refurbished in any way. This is a terrible attempt to skirt the issue and will crush their legitimacy.

  • Frank

    Steiner’s entire business is based on their representations of authenticity. This opens them to huge legal issues. Basically, any item Steiner has ever sold with authentication can now be challenged. If there is any justice, this will put them out of business and they deserve exactly that.

  • Mike Kaminsky

    Just heard about the Steiner Sports & Yankee Stadium seat law suit. I am an ex Long Islander and bought & received a set of seats. I paid $1400.00 plus freight. They are now installed in a Deli that I own in Myrtle Beach and are the talk of all my customers nd even had them signed by an ex batboy from the 50’s. I was told that if the seats were originately painted with lead paint the seats would have to be sent to Buffalo to be re-painted. Yes the sides are painted a lighter blue than the worn look of the chairs. I assumed this to be the re-paint as just mentioned.
    I will still consider these to be the real thing until someone can show me otherwise.

  • http://SteinerProducts YankeeFan714

    Lol,just because his first 5 letters begin with Stein….does not include the Brenners….just the “er” meaning Steiner.What would you do if you purchased game used dirt form the old Yankee Stadium and find out that the hologram says its Yankee Stadium Seats and not dirt? Who can come up with the answer to this.And the fact that MLB authentication is 100% foolproof.

  • Pingback: Steiner reaches settlement in suit over stadium seats | River Avenue Blues