Fans Embarrassed by Houston Astros Scandal Strike Out with Damages Claim

By Robert Burnson | July 16, 2021

Houston Astros ticket holders can’t sue the team over its signal-stealing scandal even if it caused them “embarrassment, disappointment, shame and disgrace,” a Texas appeals court ruled Thursday.

Buying a ticket gives sports fans the license for a seat at a stadium, but it doesn’t give them the right to sue for damages “based on how a sports team plays the game,” a three-judge panel said in ruling that the case should have been dismissed by a lower court.

An investigation by Major League Baseball in 2020 confirmed news reports that the Astros used a video camera to steal signals between opposing catchers and pitchers in 2017, when they won the World Series, and also in 2018. Team members watched a video feed from the camera and relayed signals to teammates at the plate by, at times, beating on a garbage can. The use of electronic devises to steal signs violates Major League Baseball rules.
Ticket holders sued in 2019, claiming that they wouldn’t have bought tickets if they had known the team was cheating and under investigation by the MLB.

Last year, the MLB batted away another lawsuit involving the sign-stealing scandal, which also involved the Boston Red Sox. In that suit, users of DraftKings fantasy sports site claimed the illicit sign-stealing had surreptitiously juiced the odds in favor of the two teams and thus caused them to make millions of dollars in bad bets. A federal judge ruled that the connection between the gambling losses and sign stealing was too weak to support a legal claim.

The case is In re Houston Astros, LLC and Houston Astros Management Inc, 14-20-00769-CV, Texas 14th Court of Appeals (Houston).

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