NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – The organization that runs the New York City Marathon, in a response to a class action lawsuit that alleges the method used to select participants amounts to an illegal lottery, is defending its practices.
New York Road Runners is facing a class action lawsuit filed recently by two Utah men in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. They claim NYRR's processing fee that it charges applicants is a lottery.
"Here's what we have to say at this time," said Chris Weiller, Vice President of Media and Public Relations for NYRR. "Our entry process for the marathon is compliant with the law.
"The $11 processing fee, which supports our mission as a not-for-profit community-based running organization, is charged to everyone who registers for the marathon regardless of whether they participate in the drawing or receive a guaranteed entry."
Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit seek more than $5 million in compensatory and/or statutory damages, injunctive relief, attorney fees and other costs of the suit.
The NYRR was founded in 1958 and has a stated mission "to help and inspire people through running."
The New York City Marathon is not the only NYRR event. NYRR activities in New York City’s five boroughs include races, community events, youth running initiatives, school programs and a number of training resources.
The New York City Marathon, which attracts about 50,000 participants. At issue is NYRR's way of selecting participants for the limited number of runner spots who may run the annual race through the city's five boroughs.
Similar to previous years, those who wish to participate in the marathon Nov. 6 had until 11:59 p.m. EST Sunday to apply for a running spot.
Applicants are informed they will be charged "a non-refundable processing fee of $11.00." Those whose applications are accepted for the event are charged a $255 entry fee. The word "lottery" occurs nowhere on the online application form.
However, the class action lawsuit filed by Charles Konopa of Salt Lake County and Matthew Clark of Utah County claim this application process is a lottery, in part, because of the processing fee. The suit claims would-be participants "have a chance to win a prize, namely, the right of entry into the marathon," the lawsuit said.
This is a violation of Acticle I, Section 9 of the New York State Constitution, which prohibits "lottery or sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state," according to the lawsuit.
It isn't clear how many plaintiffs there could be under the class action provisions of the lawsuit.
"Plaintiffs believe that there are tens of thousands of members in the proposed Class who are geographically dispersed throughout the United States," the lawsuit said.
Konopa applied to run in the 2014 New York City Marathon, while Clark applied in 2011 and 2015, the lawsuit said. Neither man's application resulted in a place to run in those events, according to the lawsuit.