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Monday, October 18, 2010

Ind. Courts - NCAA issues sent by 7th Circuit to the Indiana Supreme Court [Updated]

For background, start with this ILB entry from July 21, 2010. The issue: "Does the NCAA's system of distributing Final Four tickets constitutes an illegal lottery?"

From today's per curiam 6-page opinion on a petition for rehearing in Tom George et al v. NCAA (SD Ind., Lawrence):

PER CURIAM. Plaintiffs brought this proposed diversitybased class action against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and Ticketmaster, alleging that the defendants’ combined ticket-distribution scheme constituted a lottery in violation of Indiana law. The NCAA moved to dismiss, and the district court dismissed all claims with prejudice. Plaintiffs then appealed. On July 16, 2010, we reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case for further proceedings, with Judge Cudahy dissenting. Upon review after the filing of defendants “petition for rehearing and suggestion for rehearing en banc,” we grant the petition for rehearing, vacate our opinion, stay the appeal, and certify three questions to the Indiana Supreme Court. * * *

At this juncture, we believe that affording the Indiana Supreme Court the opportunity to interpret the application of the Indiana statutes involved here appears to be the most prudent course of action. Therefore, to that end, we grant the petition for rehearing, vacate our opinion issued on July 16, 2010, and respectfully certify the following questions to the Indiana Supreme Court:

1. Do the plaintiffs’ allegations about the NCAA’s method for allocating scarce tickets to championship tournaments describe a lottery that would be unlawful under Indiana law?

2. If the plaintiffs’ allegations describe an unlawful lottery, would the NCAA’s method for allocating tickets fall within the Ind. Code § 35-45-5-1(d) exception for “bona fide business transactions that are valid under the law of contracts”?

3. If the plaintiffs’ allegations describe an unlawful lottery, do plaintiffs’ allegations show that their claims are subject to an in pari delecto defense as described in Lesher, 496 N.E.2d at 790 n.1, and Swain v. Bussell, 10 Ind. 438, 442 (1858)? We invite reformulation of the questions presented if necessary, and nothing in this certification should be read to limit the scope of inquiry to be undertaken by the Indiana Supreme Court. Further proceedings in this court are stayed while this matter is under consideration by the Indiana Supreme Court.

[Updated at 2:04 PM] Here is the coverage of Jonathan Stempel of Reuters. It begins:
A federal appeals court halted a lawsuit accusing the National Collegiate Athletic Association of running an illegal lottery in allocating seats to basketball's Final Four and other popular sports tournaments.

Citing potential "far-reaching effects" from a ruling on the distribution of coveted tickets, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago threw out Monday its July ruling that revived a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit by fans.

The Seventh Circuit asked the Indiana Supreme Court to assess whether NCAA ticketing constituted an unlawful lottery under that state's law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 18, 2010 12:53 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions