LEWISTON — More than a year after the controversial AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts that launched “Deflategate,” seven East Coast Patriots fans have filed a federal lawsuit to get back their team’s first-round draft pick.

The fans are being represented by Rumford attorney Seth Carey.

Carey filed the suit against the NFL with the Federal District Court in Boston on Monday, along with a request for a temporary restraining order to halt what he terms “the unlawful taking of the New England Patriots first-round draft picks” during the National Football League’s draft in three weeks.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft are also named as defendants.

The suit was filed on behalf of plaintiff “New England Patriots Fans” whom Carey claims have suffered emotional damage, embarrassment and other damages by the NFL’s action revoking the New England team’s first-round draft picks.

Specifically, “Plaintiffs have dealt with embarrassment, ridicule and depression due to the rest of the country who is jealous of the Patriots ‘piling on’ and criticizing the Patriots and their fans for being ‘cheaters.’”

After an NFL investigation into the deflation of footballs during the AFC Championship game in January 2015, a game played at the Patriots’ home stadium in Foxborough, Goodell fined the Patriots $1 million and took away the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016 and its fourth-round draft pick in 2017. The league also suspended quarterback Tom Brady for four games, which Brady appealed. Goodell denied the appeal, but a federal court vacated the suspensions. Brady has since filed a federal lawsuit; a decision is expected on that suit sometime in the next several months.

In setting forth the facts in the lawsuit filed this week, Carey relies entirely and directly on Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann’s examination of “Deflategate,” starting with Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s suspicion of the ball pressure after he caught a pass from Brady during the second quarter of the AFC game. Based on that suspicion, an intern measured the pressure of the intercepted ball and found it to be less than 12.5 pounds per square inch, according to the McCann narrative in the suit.

NFL rules require pressure to be between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI, the suit notes.

The lawsuit’s nearly verbatim, seven-page narrative of McCann’s analysis continues through the days and weeks following that game, detailing when Brady was questioned about air pressure and the suggestion that locker room attendant Jim McNally was not in the bathroom with the Patriot balls long enough to deflate multiple balls.

The narrative also says texts between Brady and Patriots employee John Jastremski immediately after the game were about the upcoming Super Bowl and not about football inflation, and details the findings of the Wells Report indicating there was no direct evidence of the key accusation that Brady was involved.

The plaintiffs argue that Kraft should not have conceded the NFL punishments because doing so was harmful to them as loyal fans.

They claim that unless the “unlawful policies and practices” of the NFL, Goodell and Kraft are prohibited, “the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury by being deprived of their team’s first-round draft choice.”

The plaintiffs are:

• Todd Orsatti of Bristol, Conn., a season ticket holder since 2011 who claims he is “devastated” by his 7-year-old daughter’s decision to find another team to follow;

• David Vacarro of Plainville, Mass.;

• Michael DiMauro of Orlando, Fla., who “pays a considerable amount of money to watch the Patriots from Florida on NFL Sunday Ticket;”

• Fairuz Zein of Cambridge, Mass.;

• Ken Wlodarcyzk of Sewell, N.J.;

• Joseph Payne of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and

• Feihua Chang of Newton, Mass.

In their claim, these plaintiffs allege that, rather than fight to get the team’s draft picks back, Kraft “chose his fellow billionaire owners above the plaintiffs and fellow fans.”

And, they allege, with no finding of wrongdoing by the team or its quarterback, denying the draft picks would be “punishment without guilt,” creating an “unfair method of competition for the Patriots and the consumer, when compared to the other 31 NFL franchises and consumers.”

The lawsuit contains additional claims of breach of contract including: “plaintiffs have certain contractual expectations and rights … in holding such expensive tickets that they will be treated fairly;” fraud by defendants who “framed” the Patriots and “fabricated facts” to support their claims; negligence by Kraft for not adequately defending the reputations of his players and his team; emotional distress for “traumatic” treatment by “a high number of fans from other teams;” and racketeering.

Plaintiffs have asked that the punishments already levied not be enforced and that a restraining order be issued against the NFL to prevent it from taking the Patriots’ first-round draft pick April 28.

Plaintiffs have also asked for reimbursement of their costs, including attorney’s fees.

Contacted Wednesday, Carey declined to comment on the case for the Sun Journal.

He told boston.com, “I am a doer, not a talker.”

And, according to boston.com, he said, “I try to get things done instead of complaining about the wrongs. I will sacrifice myself for justice and the greater good. When you stick your neck out or try to go against the grain and take on the powerful, they won’t just let you. They will fight back. I am strong enough to withstand these attacks.”

Carey is currently the subject of disciplinary action by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.

In February, Carey was placed on two years of probation for failing to properly discharge his professional duties and was ordered to turn over his current caseload to other attorneys. He appealed the discipline and, by a March 7 interim order of an associate Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice, is permitted to practice law until the appeal is heard.

A conference is scheduled in the matter on April 15 in Portland.

Carey was suspended from the Maine Bar in 2009 following complaints about ethical and competency issues, and reinstated in 2010.

He is licensed to practice in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Federal District Court.


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