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Loeb & Loeb Secures NCAA Class Action Defense Victory in Indiana Supreme Court

Loeb & Loeb LLP, along with co-appellate counsel Bose McKinney and Evans, achieved a significant class action defense victory on behalf of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) April 21, 2011, when the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA’s ticket distribution process does not constitute an illegal lottery under Indiana law.

In the putative class action lawsuit, several plaintiffs alleged that the ticket distribution system formerly used by the NCAA to sell tickets to collegiate playoff games, like Basketball’s Final Four and Hockey’s Frozen Four tournaments, violated Indiana’s gambling and consumer protection statues.

Rejecting the Plaintiffs' assertion that the right to purchase tickets constituted a prize, the Supreme Court found that because the fair-market value of the tickets is equal to their face value as set by the Indiana-based NCAA, there was no prize awarded to those whose offers to purchase tickets were randomly accepted by the NCAA, and therefore no lottery.

Questions regarding Indiana’s anti-gambling laws were certified to the Indiana Supreme court in October 2010 when the Seventh Circuit en banc vacated its earlier panel decision which had permitted a putative class-action lawsuit to proceed against the NCAA under that statute.

At the district court level, the Loeb team obtained a dismissal with prejudice of the entire case. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit panel initially reversed the trial court’s dismissal and remanded the case. Responding to the NCAA's petition for en banc review and citing the "far-reaching effects" its decision could have on "sports-ticket-distribution systems used by the NCAA and others," the Seventh Circuit granted the NCAA’s petition for review and request to vacate, certifying the lottery questions to the Indiana Supreme Court.

The Loeb & Loeb attorneys handling this matter for the NCAA were Douglas Masters, Laura Wytsma and Benjamin King.