The Houston Astros face more potential class action litigation, as a lawsuit looks to represent 2017-2020 full and partial season ticket holders who one fan claims were overcharged to see “a deficient product on the field” while the team was engaged in its surreptitious sign-stealing scheme.
Filed in Harris County, Texas District Court, the lawsuit alleges that those who held full and/or partial season tickets for the 2017, 2018, 2019 and/or 2020 seasons were deceptively overcharged by the Astros while the team and its management “knowingly and surreptitiously” stole signs from opposing pitchers through a method infamized as the “trash can scheme.” The lawsuit looks to recover for proposed class members damages in the form of “inappropriate increases” in 2017-2020 season ticket prices, as well as what the plaintiff claims is the diminished value of the fans’ personal seat licenses. Additionally, the case asks the court for an injunction prohibiting the Astros from raising season ticket prices for at least two years.
With the 2020 season fast approaching, the complaint against Houston Astros, LLC and Houston Astros Management, Inc. is centered on the revelations that team personnel, including during the World Series-winning 2017 season, illegally used video technology to steal opposing pitchers’ signs and relay the information to batters in real time. The operation to steal opposing teams’ signs, dubbed internally as “Codebreaker,” the case says, came to involve both players on the field and team management. Following the release of Major League Baseball’s report on the trash can scheme, then-Astros manager AJ Hinch and then-general manager Jeff Luhnow lost their jobs after being hit with year-long suspensions from the sport, as did Carlos Beltran, the Astros designated hitter during the 2017 season and short-lived New York Mets manager. Former Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the Astros bench coach during the 2017 season, split from the American League East team once the extent of his role in Houston’s operation became known.
Astros players received no discipline from the league, though the team was fined $5 million and forced to forfeit its first and second round picks for the 2020 and 2021 First-Year Player drafts.