Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Bengals pay seat buyers in settlement

Fans sued, charging bait-and-switch

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The check is in the mail for 1,750 Bengals season ticket holders. Settlement checks started going out Monday to plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit that claimed the Cincinnati Bengals and Hamilton County gave them bad seats in Paul Brown Stadium.

        The average check is about $1,100, although the amount could range from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the number of seats and their location.

        Hundreds more fans may be eligible for a “delayed termination option,” which entitles them to a partial refund this year and the right to give up their seats depending on how the Ben gals do this season.

        As a bonus for bringing the suit, lead plaintiff Glenn Reedy of Miami Township, Clermont County, will get $3,000. Five other first-in plaintiffs will split another $11,000, according to court records.

        Janet Abaray, the class-action lawyer who brought the suit, will get 20 percent of the settlement, plus expenses.

        As Bengals fans wrap up their season ticket ordeal, Steelers fans are just getting started.

        Last week, they filed a class-action suit in Pittsburgh alleging they, too, were victims of a season ticket bait-and-switch. As in Cincinnati, they say the team expanded the most desirable sections after fans bought their seat licenses.

        At Pittsburgh's new Heinz Field, some fans say they were promised premium seats — but ended up in the bleachers.

        “It seems to be the same in every respect except they charged more for seat licenses in Pittsburgh, and they're sold out,” said Ms. Abaray, who's been asked to help with the Steelers lawsuit by Pittsburgh lawyer William Helzlsouer.

        “The Steelers believe that the seating arrangements were done fairly and were consistent with all legal requirements,” the team said in a written statement.

        The 65,000-seat Heinz Field will have its preseason debut this Saturday against Detroit.


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