By: Jesse Ochoa, Articles Editor, J.D. Candidate, May 2020, St. Thomas University School of Law.

One call, or blown call, can change an entire game; but one ruling by a court can’t change that call. After a heartbreaking 26-23 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the New Orleans Saints, mainly its fan base, has filed suit compelling the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to schedule a “do-over” game or, at the very least, investigate into the missed call that stopped the Saints from reaching the Super Bowl, thus ending their season. The controversial missed call occurred as the Saints were inside the Rams 10-yard line attempting to convert a third down, and hopefully score, with 1:45 left in the game. What was missed? A pass interference with helmet-to-helmet contact leading the Saint to settle for a field goal. After a successful field goal to take the lead, the Rams eventually marched down the field, tied the game forcing overtime, and then kicked a game-winning field goal to send them to Atlanta for a Super Bowl matchup against the New England Patriots.

That week, season ticket holders, collectively, filed two lawsuits. The first lawsuit sought the court’s approval to enforce the NFL to follow NFL Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1, which provides that the commissioner of the NFL has the power to take corrective measures for a game “calamity.” The hopeful end result? A game do-over or a replaying of the game from the point when the calamitous act occurred; in this case, the pass interference. The suit requested a writ of mandamus. Writs of mandamus are typically used to command an individual or entity to perform its public duty, or its duty according to the law, but have also been known to apply to corporate entities. The second lawsuit, classified under a class-action, sought emotional distress and breach of contract damages as a result of the “no call”.

Unfortunately for Saints fans, Judge Susie Morgan, a District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New Orleans, held that the writ of mandamus does not apply to the NFL because it is an unincorporated entity. Additionally, the relief sought by the lawsuit is not one that the courts can provide through a writ of mandamus because a “do over” is not an unequivocal duty imposed by the law. Even though the Plaintiffs argued they have standing as season ticket holders, they had neither suffered monetary loss that would give rise to better standing in their suit, nor would a writ of mandamus be the remedy to enforce contractual rights and obligations. In her seventeen-page long opinion, Judge Morgan further indicated the instances in which a writ of mandamus would accomplish what relief the law suit sought. Additionally, Judge Morgan found the federal court was not the proper avenue for the class action