A lawsuit accusing quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants of doctoring memorabilia to make it seem game-used can move forward in New Jersey state court, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Memorabilia dealer Eric Inselberg filed the lawsuit in January, alleging that the team “repeatedly engaged in the distribution of fraudulent Giants memorabilia.” The Giants had hoped to have the case moved to federal court, “since in most states federal court provides a forum far more favorable to the interests of those being sued,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes.
Inselberg was indicted on federal charges of selling counterfeit jerseys in 2011 following a FBI sting, a case that was dropped in 2013. His lawsuit against the Giants stems from that incident, because he’s alleging that the team is at fault for the collapse of his business.
The New York Post wrote about Inselberg’s lawsuit in January:
In one startling claim, the suit says Barry Barone, who has been the Giants’ dry cleaner since 1982, used his Rutherford, NJ, Park Cleaners store to beat up jerseys and other items at the behest of longtime locker-room manager Ed Wagner Jr.
In a 2001 incident, Wagner told Barone “to intentionally damage multiple jerseys to make them appear to have been game-worn when they had not been.”
Inselberg’s lawyer, Brian Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed, said his client walked in to find Barone “using a big pair of scissors to cut up a set of Giants’ 2000 season’s game-issued white jerseys,’’ in order to then “’repair’ those damages” to make the shirts look used.
Inselberg also claims that, in 2005, Manning asked Giants equipment manager Joe Skiba “for an old, beat-up game helmet — and then took the headgear, signed it, and put it on the market, ‘falsely claiming that it was a helmet used during his 2004 rookie season.’ ” the Post reported in January.
Per the Post, Inselberg also alleges that one piece of fraudulent Giants merchandise ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
In 2008, the suit alleges, Joe Skiba took a different helmet and doctored it to appear as if Manning had worn it in that year’s Super Bowl. The fake headgear was ordered by a Giants vice president after he learned the real headgear had been sold — to Inselberg — and was later given to the Hall of Fame, the suit claims.
At the time the lawsuit was filed in January, Giants treasurer Jonathan Tisch said that it had “no merit.”