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March 5, 2012 6:41 PM

No Joke: Katten Represents Couple in Suit Claiming Friars Club Failed to Deliver Oscar Tix It Auctioned

Posted by Sara Randazzo

The 2012 Billy Crystal–hosted Academy Awards may have been a snooze for viewers at home, but two disgruntled New Yorkers are apparently quite disappointed they couldn't be on hand for the festivities—and say the charitable arm of the Friars Club is to blame.

In a suit filed in New York state court Friday by attorneys with Katten Muchin Rosenman, Michael and Patricia Franzino claim The Friars Foundation and Grandstand Sports & Memorabilia auctioned off Oscar tickets that the two organizations didn't, it turns out, actually own and never provided.

The couple bought an Oscar package, which included a trip to Los Angeles and tickets to the February 26 awards show,  during an auction at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum last June, according to their lawyer, Katten partner Steven Eckhaus. As the months wore on, however, the Oscar tickets never materialized, according to the couple's three-page summons (PDF).

The ordeal caused the Franzinos to "incur cost, acute embarrassment, and professional ridicule," the summons contends.

Howard Schwartz, the president and founder of New York–based Grandstand Sports, said in an e-mail that the couple were reimbursed the $27,000 they paid for the package—and have already cashed the check— and were still offered the first-class round-trip airfare and luxury hotel stay "as a courtesy." A Friars Club spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eckhaus, who chairs Katten's executive employment practice, says the Franzinos didn't go on the trip to Los Angeles. Asked why they are still seeking legal redress, Eckhaus asked, "If you were told a week before the Oscars you wouldn't be able to go, how would you feel?"

The Franzinos seek more than $250,000 in damages, which the summons describes as relief for the "fraud, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract" they were subject to by the defendants.

The Academy has taken issue with the sale of Oscar tickets in the past. In a 2009 suit, the Academy sued an Arizona company that advertised a package, purchased for $175,000, that included four tickets to the show and accomodations in Los Angeles. The suit accused Experience 6 of selling "black-market" tickets, arguing that tickets to the red carpet event cannot be transferred or sold for security reasons.

 

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Another case that accentuates the litigious mentality of the populace. America needs to embrace UK rules which revert the expense of losing cases onto the plaintiff. Why was not the check supplied with a forbearance for future litigation? Seems to me someone is trying to garner an amount of monies way beyond damages.

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