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Monday, January 17, 2022

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of NY Mets in Kosher Hot Dog Dispute

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A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the New York Mets have the legal right to prevent Kosher Sports Inc. from selling their hot dogs at Citi Field on Shabbat. In making his decision, the judge cited a contract between the baseball team and the provider of glatt kosher food to sports venues that does not openly guarantee weekend sales.

Kosher Sports, which was founded by former Wall Street trader Jonathan Katz in 2003, sued the Mets two years ago when the team refused to let them sell frankfurters on Friday nights and Saturdays, when attendance at ballgames is generally at a higher level. The Mets argued that the sale of the kosher wieners would violate the Jewish day of rest, and management had privately expressed its concerns over possible complaints from observant baseball fans.

The clash over the stadium Shabbat sales may well be one of the most bitterly contested legal disputes over frankfurters in the history of the American court system. As the case dragged on over the past two years, accusations of deceit were leveled and fits of anger erupted during discussions about the specifics of selling hot dogs at Major League baseball games. The squabble became so heated at one point that the Mets accused Kosher Sports of secretly recording conversations among executives of Aramark, a leading purveyor of concessions at sports stadiums, and subsequently attempting a cover-up to hide the tapes from a federal judge.

In his ruling, Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein threw out the lawsuit brought by Kosher Sports against the Mets and contended that the hot dog vendor could be liable for damages because it ceased paying the required annual fees to the baseball team. Kosher Sports – which sold its glatt kosher franks from pushcarts situated on the lower levels of Citi Field – refused to submit the payments because, in the company’s opinion, the Mets never forbade it from selling hot dogs on Shabbat until the ten-year contract was already signed.

In his four-page ruling, the judge stated his belief that the fine points of Kosher Sports’ agreement to sell frankfurters were actually detailed in a contract with Aramark, which controls most concessionaires at Citi Field. The hot dog vendor’s direct contract with the Mets does not give Kosher Sports the right to sell its products at all events during the ten-year term of the agreement, Judge Weinstein wrote. Rather, the contract between Kosher Sports and the Mets “principally covers advertising, not product vending issues,” the judge wrote.

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