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Packers fan gets Green Bay lawyer for his lawsuit against the Bears
GREEN BAY – Russell Beckman found a David to take on his Goliath, the Chicago Bears.
Beckman said David Weber of Green Bay law firm Conway, Olejniczak, & Jerry S.C. will represent him in his federal lawsuit charging the Bears with denying his First and 14th amendments rights by not letting him wear Green Bay Packers gear on the field during a pregame event.
Beckman, who is a Packers fan and Bears season ticket holder, was prohibited from wearing Packers garb as part of a Bears' rewards program for season ticket and personal seat license holders.
His argument is that the Bears lease Soldier Field from the Chicago Park District and their finances and operations intersect with the park district to such a degree it makes the Bears a state actor. In other words, what happens at Soldier Field is a public, not private, activity, as it might be where a team owns its stadium outright. He argues the Bears violated his First and 14th Amendment rights.
The First Amendment covers freedom of speech and the 14th Amendment requires equal protection of the laws.
A 1977 case built on a similar argument, Ludtke vs. Kuhn, resulted in equal access to professional sports locker rooms by female reporters.
On March 30, a U.S. district judge in Chicago dismissed Beckman's attempt to the include the NFL and a request for class-action status in his suit, but determined his claim against the Bears could continue. He filed the complaint in June 2017.
Beckman, a Green Bay School District teacher who was representing himself in court, said he was contacted by several attorneys after a newspaper story about his lawsuit.
"I believe (Weber) and his firm have the skills to bring it to a successful outcome," Beckman said.
A status hearing on May 9 in Chicago was postponed.