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High court throws Steelers fans for a loss

| Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The state Supreme Court agreed Tuesday with an Allegheny County judge's decision to throw out the lawsuit filed by four Pittsburgh Steelers season-ticket holders who are unhappy with their seat assignments at Heinz Field.

The four -- Ronald Yocca, of McKeesport; Ronald Carmassi, of McCandless; and Paul Serwonski and his wife, Patty, of North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County -- argued that they were misled in October 1998 by a sales brochure for season tickets at then-unbuilt Heinz Field and that they ended up being assigned inferior seats after paying for top-dollar locations.

The four argued in their lawsuit against the Steelers and the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority that the seats they were given were farther away from the 50-yard line and higher in the stadium than the ones depicted in the brochure.

The Supreme Court ruled: "... the Brochure was merely an offer by the Steelers to sell (the four) the right to be assigned an unspecified seat in an unspecified section of the new stadium and the right to receive a contract to buy (a stadium builder license) for that later-assigned seat."

The four were mailed updated -- but still incomplete -- seating diagrams in late 1999 when they signed stadium-builder license and club seat agreements. Construction of Heinz Field was completed in 2001, and the first game was played that August.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Horgos ruled in favor of the Steelers and the SEA. "It is simply not logical to believe that a sketch of the seating areas of the stadium published two years before the stadium was built was included in the final contract of the parties, particularly when a new diagram was included with the contract," Horgos said.

Commonwealth Court reversed Horgos, and the Steelers appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court ruling confirms our belief all along that the seating assignments were done fairly and consistent with all legal requirements," Steelers spokesman Ron Wahl said yesterday.

"I am extremely disappointed," said W.J. Helzlsouer, of Dravosburg, the attorney for the four season ticket-holders. "We are reviewing this decision. We will consider the possibility of pursuing it further, including making a motion for reargument."

"I go to very few of the games because its not as much fun anymore," said Carmassi, a longtime season ticket-holder. "The way they assigned the seats were not very fair in my estimation. I'm just not as interested in going anymore."

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