The trial in a sports memorabilia lawsuit involving Eli Manning, initially slated for September 25th, has been indefinitely postponed. A New Jersey Superior Court judge assigned to the case has been asked to step down from the case. This will mark the second time that Manning’s opposing counsel have filed for the removal of the Honorable James J. Deluca. This filing for removal claims that New Jersey’s code of conduct requires judges to remove themselves from a case in which they possess “a financial interest in an enterprise related to the litigation.” Here, it is alleged that Deluca owns several personal seat licenses with the Giants, which allow him to purchase season tickets with the team. The plaintiffs believe that this constitutes a financial interest, which should be grounds for removal.
The lawsuit filed in January of 2014 accuses Eli Manning and others of selling non-game-used equipment as game-used. Those suing Manning are comprised of several memorabilia collectors who paid heightened prices to obtain authentic equipment worn by Manning. The plaintiffs reportedly have evidence of emails sent by Manning to an equipment manager that, if true, would confirm his guilt.
Fraud in the realm of memorabilia sales does not begin with Manning. In the 1990s, the FBI took down several groups that replicated autographs from notable athletes including Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. The groups were able to create and deal merchandise and equipment that was marked with signatures that were virtually indistinguishable from authentic.
Nevertheless, for Manning’s trial to go forward, a decision will first need to be made on whether or not Judge Deluca is suited to hear this case. More developments will presumably be given to the public in the near future.