A copycat lawsuit that was filed in Pittsburgh against the Steelers and the other 31 NFL teams on the heels of an identical taxpayer lawsuit against the Bengals and the league has been dismissed this week by a federal judge.
As in the suit in Cincinnati, Robert C. Warnock cited anti-trust violations in the building of Heinz Field and wanted damages (more than $200 million) and the nullification of the lease.
But U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti compared Warnock's status as a taxpayer to a fan unable to challenge a referee's call. She also said she disagreed with U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel's ruling in Cincinnati that a taxpayer could bring a suit. In Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Sports & Exhibition Authority refused to join the suit. In Cincinnati, Hamilton County subsequently joined and then replaced the taxpayer in the suit.
"The taxpayer is entitled to bring suit for an injunction against a local government entity to challenge unlawful municipal expenditures," Conti said in her ruling. "That relationship does not extend to permit municipal taxpayers to sue private defendants that receive government funds and to challenge the allegedly illegal actions of those private defendants."