The indispensible blog Above the Law has recently posted a depressing bit of news. Certain ticket holders to the 2011 Super Bowl could not be accomodated because the temporarily-installed seats that they purchased proved to be unsafe for use. The NFL expressed its regret by offering the disappointed purchasers their choice of either (a) $2,400 in cash — i.e., three times the value of the tickets they purchased — or (b) a seat to any future Super Bowl of their choosing, plus round-trip airfare, plus hotel accomodations.
In any other context, this would be the opening offer of a negotiation and it would be a pretty good one.
In the context of American dispute resolution, however, it was an invitation to sue. For $5,000,000. Further information on the lawsuits filed by certain of these ticketholders can be found here.
I don’t have a lot of wisdom to impart here, just a sort of shake of the head. One party sold something it later transpired to be impossible to deliver. The other party received an apology and was offered a value far exceeding the original purchase. In what other society would two such parties not talk, not discuss, not negotiate for more, but instead pay an attorney?