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Cleveland fan sues NFL, teams over lockout

A Cleveland Browns fan sued the National Football League and its teams over the player lockout, claiming it violated his contract to buy tickets through his personal seat license.

Ken Lanci, a self-made millionaire who ran unsuccessfully last year for the top county government job in Cleveland, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

“It’s a fight between billionaires and millionaires,” Lanci said Friday in a phone interview. “There isn’t any sympathy for multi-millionaires. It’s just not going to happen. And somebody has to stand up and say, ‘Enough’s enough.'”

The lawsuit asked for damages of more than $25,000 from the Browns on both breach of contract and bad faith counts and more than $25,000 from the league and its teams for alleged contract interference.

Neal Gulkis, a Browns spokesman, refers questions to the league.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press in an e-mail that the league had not seen the lawsuit but understood fans’ frustration.

“NFL clubs all have announced refund policies to protect fans during the work stoppage,” Aiello wrote. “The best solution to Mr. Lanci’s concern is for the union to return to the bargaining table and complete a labor agreement that will put the game back on the field where it belongs.”

The lawsuit also asked for any additional unspecified damages that the court considers fair.

The case was assigned to Judge John P. O’Donnell. The league and teams have four weeks to respond in court.

Lanci claimed that the lockout denies him the right under the personal seat licenses to go to Browns games and has destroyed the value of the seat-license agreement.

The lawsuit claims the NFL and its teams have “conspired with the Browns and one another to lock out the players, without justification, resulting in the Browns’ breach of the PSL agreement.”

The NFL hasn’t lost games to a work stoppage since 1987, when a strike shortened the season and some games included nonunion replacement players.

The main sticking point in negotiations leading up to the lockout was how to divide the NFL’s more than $9 billion in annual revenues.

(Copyright © 2011, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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