Two (2) Ticket Disputes Rip Apart Lawyer Friendships

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Two stories recently of lawyer friendships destroyed by battles over season tickets, battles that as you might expect are being fought out in court in full lawyer mode.

1.  Prima Donna v. The Tailgater

First, on June 11 the Chicago Tribune reported that Donald Ramsell sued his longtime and now former friend Douglas Warlick over a pair of season tickets to Chicago Bears games.  Warlick has owned seat licenses since 1985, and the two attorneys seem to have frequently attended games together over the years.  In 2002, Warlick invited Ramsell to split the $10,000 application fee for four new seat licenses at the renovated Soldier Field, in exchange for the right to buy half the tickets from him.  The report says that both men agree that this took place, but apparently do not agree on the details, and that "the two experienced litigators had nothing more than an oral agreement."

That was fine until the friendship began to unravel.  The first sign of trouble: tailgating disagreements.  Warlick likes it, Ramsell does not.  "Call me a prima donna," Ramsell said, "but we have club seats, and I don’t want to stand in a cement parking garage, drinking beer out of somebody’s trunk. I’ve paid a huge amount of money, and I’d rather have my rum and Coke and have somebody serve me."  (Okay, you’re a prima donna.)  Also at issue: the allegedly unequitable distribution of transportation arrangements.  "You have expected me to pick you up at your house and drop you off at your house for every game, as if I am some sort of limo service," Ramsell said to Warlick in a pre-suit letter. "If you are unable to drive when it should be your turn, then I suggest that you purchase [an actual] limousine service to drive for you."  Ramsell demanded that Warlick (1) transfer two tickets into Ramsell’s name, (2) sell all four tickets and buy new ones on the open market, or (3) put the four tickets into a legal partnership that the two would share.

Warlick responded with a letter suggesting that Ramsell, to use a legal term, go pound sand.  "Don, I regret the apparent loss of friendship associated with your certified letter," he wrote, "but I am a ‘diehard’ Bears fan.  I will never sell my precious Bears Season Tickets."  Overcapitalization is often a signal that an attorney has written something, and Warlick followed up with another common practice, not being able to use numbers correctly.  "I have paid for season tickets for (21) years," he said, inexplicably placing the numeral in parentheses as he explained the greater ticket entitlement he had earned as a long-suffering fan: "I always had (4) seats and parking passes. I went to every game in any weather condition, and I endured two [2] decades of lean years while I waited for a championship after 1985.  On the other hand, in just (4) years, you have been fortunate enough to attend as many Bears games as you desired as well as attend an NFC Championship game. Consider yourself lucky, and don’t be greedy."

Result — lawsuit, filed on May 30 in DuPage County Circuit Court.  Ramsell seeks an injunction preventing Warlick from transferring or selling the two tickets that Ramsell says he has typically bought over the last four years.  "He’s a lawyer.  I’m a lawyer," the lawyer said.  "The courthouse is where you go when you have a dispute [and you’re a lawyer]."  This is actually Ramsell’s second ticket-related lawsuit — in 2001 he filed a class action after failing to receive a full refund for four (4) tickets to a rained-out Doobie Brothers concert.

2.  The College World Series Dispute

Meanwhile, two Omaha attorneys joined battle in Douglas County District Court over tickets to College World Series tickets that the two have shared since 1977.  Jerry Slusky sued his childhood friend, Howard Hahn, after the latter allegedly refused to turn over four of the eight tickets.  (The two  apparently had a previous disagreement over a legal-fee split in a real-estate deal.)  It seems that Hahn offered four different tickets this time around, but Slusky wants the same four he’s always had, seats that he described as "exquisite."  "I don’t want four other tickets," Slusky said, "I want my four tickets.  I said [to Hahn], ‘You don’t want me to sue.’  He said, ‘I don’t intimidate easily.’"  The tickets to the exquisite seats were not provided.

In fact, Hahn said, he has an arrow in his quiver (actually, a stack of paper on his desk) that Slusky should know will be an obstacle to his claim.  "Put it this way," he said.  "I’ve got a small stack of papers on my credenza that he’s aware of."  The mysterious Credenza Stack, whatever it might be, did not deter Slusky from suing.

Slusky says he, at least, is not angry.  If the judge were to split the tickets between them, he said, "I’d be happy to sit next to Howard."  The report did not say how Howard was likely to feel about that, though.  And it appears that he did not share the sentiment, since reports this week were that the two reached a settlement just before a scheduled hearing on the matter.  Under the agreement, each man will get four (4) of the tickets, but Slusky’s set will be exchanged by the CWS for four (4) tickets in a neighboring, and presumably similarly exquisite, section.

Link: "Friends bear a grudge over hot season tickets," Chicago Tribune (June 11, 2007)
Link: "Pals get in legal dust-up over CWS tickets," Omaha World-Herald, June 10, 2007)
Link: "Lawyers feuding over CWS tickets reach a deal," Sioux City Journal (June 22, 2007)