Court to hear appeal of 49ers patdown policy

The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by a Danville couple challenging the San Francisco 49ers' policy of conducting patdown searches of fans who attend football games.

Longtime season ticket holders Daniel and Kathleen Sheehan claim the patdowns violate the California constitution's guarantee of privacy. They sued the team in San Francisco Superior Court in 2006.

They appealed to the state high court after a trial judge and a state appeals court rejected the lawsuit.

A Court of Appeal panel said by a 2-1 vote July that the Sheehans had “no reasonable expectation of privacy” because they knew about the patdowns when they bought tickets for the 2006 season.

The patdowns were instituted by the 49ers in the fall of 2005 in response to a nationwide mandate by the National Football League, which said football stadiums are a potential terrorist target.

Six of the state Supreme Court's seven justices voted in favor of hearing the couple's appeal. The action was announced in an order posted at the court's headquarters in San Francisco.

No date has been set for a hearing on the case. After hearing arguments, the panel will have three months to issue a written ruling.

Team spokeswoman Lisa Lang said, “We're confident the California Supreme Court will uphold the 49ers' right to implement the NFL's patdown policy.”

The Sheehans, a retired glazier and former school employee, moved to Danville after spending most of their lives in San Francisco. Daniel Sheehan said when the lawsuit was filed, “I find it terribly offensive that my family and I now have to be subjected to this because of some unknown fear.”

The 49ers' inspections consist of screeners running their hands around ticker holders' backs and down the sides of their bodies and their legs, according to the appeals court.

— Bay City News

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