NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans plaintiff's attorney, who calls himself "The Strong Arm" is now trying to strong arm the NFL.
Tuesday, Frank D'Amico, Jr., filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
The suit, on behalf of Saints season ticket holders Tommy Badeaux and Candis Lambert and "the Saints national fan base," would compel NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell into court to explain why he is not enforcing a league rule. Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 would allow Goodell, should he so choose, to reverse or reschedule the outcome of the game between the Saints and Rams.
The legal action comes after a blown call in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game. With 1:49 left to play in a 20-20 game, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass to Tommylee Lewis. The Rams Nickell Robey-Coleman tackled Lewis well before the arrival of the ball. Game officials let the play stand without calling a penalty.
"We're threatening a touchdown," D'Amico said. "The Rams player admitted that he took out our player on purpose because he thought he as beat to the end zone for a touchdown."
D'Amico added the "no-call" was so egregious, that Commissioner Goodell can't ignore it.
"It looks like the fix was in. It totally disgraces the Super Bowl," D'Amico said. "There's no legitimacy to the Super Bowl. The Rams should not be going."
Rule 17 says the NFL commissioner has the power to enact:
"The reversal of a game's result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred."
That makes it sound like the NFL could step in - if it wanted to - and force a rematch that Saints fans have been calling for.
But there's one problem, according to Gabriel Feldman, associate law professor at Tulane University and an expert in sports law.
"Rule 17 applies to extraordinary acts. It does not seem to contemplate an officials error being an extraordinary act. That something that is fairly ordinary san official makes a mistake," Feldman said.
Feldman said he would expect the lawsuit to be dismissed immediately.
"It may have been cathartic for the fans. It may be cathartic for the city. It has almost no legal basis," Feldman said. "Even if the fans have standing to bring this suit, which it's not clear they do, there's just no legal grounds for the lawsuit."
In essence, Rule 17 is not a way for NFL teams to protest a call. Article 2 goes on to say:
"The Commissioner will not apply authority in cases of complaints by clubs concerning judgmental errors or routine errors of omission by game officials."
And here is the tough pill for Saints fans to swallow:
“Games involving such complaints will continue to stand as completed.”
Among the damages claimed in the lawsuit: past, present and future mental anguish and emotional trauma, loss of faith in the NFL, loss of enjoyment of life and "distrust of the game which has become the National pastime."
"It's never happened in the NFL and a court has never even been asked for a commissioner to do this," Feldman said. "When fans have sued because they are unhappy with the outcome of the game, the courts have rejected everyone of those lawsuits."
The five-page filing does not set a dollar figure for the alleged damages.
D'Amico admits what his lawsuit is seeking to do has never been done before. But, he maintains that doesn't mean it can't happen.
"So, what can the NFL do about the outcome of the Rams game, probably nothing," D'Amico said. "Bad calls happen. But, sometimes bad calls have bigger consequences than others."
Feldman, on the other hand, said he expects the lawsuit will get dismissed immediately.
"It may have been cathartic for the fans. It may be cathartic for the city. It has almost no legal basis Even if the fans have standing to bring this suit which it's not clear they do, there's just no legal grounds for the lawsuit," Feldman said.
Feldman said he does expect a silver lining, though: It's likely the NFL's rules will change following the 'travesty on turf.'
"Either you can review all pass interference calls, you can review all pass interference calls in the playoffs or the fourth quarter of a game; they'll be some tweak to the rules," Feldman said.
D'Amico is asking for an expedited hearing on a Rule to Show Cause Motion in the case next Monday, Jan. 28.