Anyone who has attended a Detroit Lions game knows it's impossible to walk into Ford Field without coming across a handful of people trying to sling extra tickets on the street. But a handful of Lions fans say the Detroit Police Department is unlawfully cracking down on the practice, something that has been legal for years under certain circumstances.
In a potential class-action lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, five plaintiffs from Michigan and Utah say they were cited by Detroit police for reselling tickets for less than face value, even though a federal judge upheld the practice in 2006. State law prohibits scalping, the practice of reselling tickets above face value.
Attorney Neal Brand, also one of the named plaintiffs, alleges the city routinely ignores the court order, accosts ticket resellers, and continues to issue fines over the practice.
"The plaintiffs had a reasonable right to believe that since the ordinance was stricken as unconstitutional that they would be free from prosecution for reselling tickets at face value or less," according to the complaint.
Detroit police goes after individuals reselling tickets, claiming they must have a vending license, according to the complaint. This oddly conflicts with statements Detroit officials have made in the past, the complaint says: Brand previously contacted the city to receive a permit, but the city has indicated one isn't needed to resell tickets.
In one instance, Brand and a friend stood outside 36th District Court downtown to resell nine tickets for the Lions Dec. 14 game. An officer detained the pair, took their photos with an iPad, and refused to explain why they were detained, the complaint says. After Brand and his friend responded that they were allowed to sell the tickets at face value or less, the officer said "take it up with a judge or someone else who may care," according to the complaint.
Another plaintiff, Jermaine Carter, of Detroit, alleges he was cited twice on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 for not having a vending license. Carter was not selling tickets above face value, the complaint says.
In addition, a father and daughter, Thomas Crace and Candice Waters, of Utah were cited for reselling tickets, but they never actually sold any, according to the complaint.
"Crace and Waters were standing outside Ford Field and cited for vending because police unreasonably suspected that they may sell their tickets," the complaint says. "Crace and Waters were forced to fly back from Utah to Detroit to defend these allegations."
John Roach, spokesperson for Mayor Mike Duggan, declined to comment, saying city attorneys are still reviewing the complaint.
"At the appropriate time, the city's legal team will respond with its own filing with the court," he says.
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, unspecified damages, attorney fees and expenses.