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Miami Marlins Involved in a Legal Dispute with Stadium Vendors

According to reporting from the Miami New Times, the Marlins, Miami’s professional baseball franchise, have had a hard time attracting fans this season. The poor attendance has led to conflict with some season ticket holders as well as some stadium vendors. Two vendors allege, in separate court cases, that their businesses have been harmed by false promises made by the team. Florida businesses have a legal obligation to bargain in good faith; and if your business was induced to act by a false promise, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact an experienced West Palm Beach commercial litigation attorney for additional information.

Struggling Attendance is Hurting Vendors

Marlins Park, which is located in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, opened in 2012. Prior to that season, the team signed several agreements with new vendors to provide food, beverages and other goods within the new stadium. There were high hopes that Marlins Park would boost the team’s historically poor attendance figures. Unfortunately, the crowds have continued to lag. The owners of two of the stadium’s vendors, ‘Sir Pizza’ and ‘Jimmy’s Barbeque’, both who signed contracts with team, claim that they were misled by Marlins executives. Sir Pizza paid the team $2 million in exchange for the right to operate four concession stands within the ballpark. The company claims that the Marlins promised them an average of 30,000 fans per game, and nearly $2 million in annual pizza sales. However, since Sir Pizza signed that contract in 2012, the team has averaged only around 20,000 fans per game. Sir Pizza has averaged well under $1 million in annual pizza sales at the park. The company claims that the Marlins fraudulently misrepresented the reasonable prospects for vendor success at the new stadium.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation in Florida

In Florida, parties to a business contract have a legal obligation to bargain in good faith. If an agreement is induced under false pretenses, the damaged party may be entitled to compensation. A viable fraudulent misrepresentation claim requires proving that:

  • A representation was made;
  • The representation was false;
  • At the time the representation was made, the defendant knew it was false, or should have known it was false;
  • The false representation was made with the intention of inducing action from the other party;
  • The other party did, in actuality, rely on the false information; and
  • Real damage was suffered.

In this case, the Miami Marlins were making representations about future attendance figures. Clearly, there was no way for the team to have actual precise knowledge of future attendance. However, the team still had a legal obligation to make good faith estimates when dealing with potential stadium vendors. If the team was knowingly misrepresenting future attendance expectations, or if they failed to put in the effort to make a reasonably accurate estimate, then they have fraudulently misrepresented a material fact.

Need Legal Help?

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our commercial litigation attorneys have extensive experience protecting the interests of Florida businesses. If you have any questions about fraudulent misrepresentation claims, or Florida business law in general, please contact our office today at (561) 855-7575. Initial legal consultations are free of charge, and we serve clients throughout West Palm Beach area, including in Coral Gables and Miami Gardens.

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