Miami Dolphins

Dolphins fan sues the team, says ejected for kneeling during anthem, cursing Trump

Dolphins Maurice Smith (27), Julius Thomas (89) and Jarvis Landry (14) during the national anthem prior to the Dolphins 20-6 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 24.
Dolphins Maurice Smith (27), Julius Thomas (89) and Jarvis Landry (14) during the national anthem prior to the Dolphins 20-6 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 24. Getty Images

A Miami Dolphins season ticket holder has sued South Florida’s NFL franchise, claiming she was treated unfairly and ejected from her seats after she knelt during the national anthem and referred to the president as “a------ Trump.”

A Dolphins spokesperson said Cindy Niad Hannah was ejected from Hard Rock Stadium during the Dolphins 31-28 win against the New York Jets on Oct. 22 for repeated violations of the fan code of conduct. The lawsuit says the team told Niad Hannah’s husband they were ejected because of “her use of curse words in violation of (franchise) rules.”

The Parkland woman’s suit filed in Broward County claims, “The actions by the Dolphins security guard … constituted a breach by the Dolphins of their ticket agreement with (Niad Hannah). In retaliation of (Niad Hannah’s) kneeling and speaking to her husband derogatorily about Donald Trump, the two people sitting to the right of (Niad Hannah) caused Defendant to retaliate against (Niad Hannah) and apply selective enforcement of its alleged policies/rules against (Niad Hannah).”

Niad Hannah, a 33-year member of the Florida Bar and representing herself, is asking for $10,000 in damages for “retaliating against the Plaintiff’s expression of her First Amendment rights, attorney’s fees and costs.”

As a franchise, the Dolphins have taken anything but a hard line with players who kneel during the national anthem to protest what they see as social injustice and police brutality.

A policy was implemented that allows players who wish to kneel, such as safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills, to remain in the tunnel during the national anthem. But they didn’t do so Sunday night before the Dolphins game against Oakland. Asked about it Monday, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said, “I’m going to worry about football. I’m not going to get into all of that.”

However, Niad Hannah says that fans and security guards around her Section 208 seats did get into all of that during the second regular season game at Hard Rock Stadium.

The suit says when Niad Hannah’s husband asked her why she knelt during the anthem, she said she was showing support for the players and for U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who accused Trump of speaking callously to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in Niger on Oct. 4, and because of her displeasure with “a------ Trump.”

The couple to Niad Hannah’s immediate right, the suit claims, complained to Dolphins personnel about the profanity. She says a security guard later began to observe her from Section 208’s top row and harass her, saying 10 people had complained about her. The suit later claims that the security guard accused Niad Hannah of taking pictures of the woman next to her with her iPhone. The guard requested her phone, and Niad Hannah refused because she was violating no rules or laws, the lawsuit says.

With the game tied at 28 in the fourth quarter, the suit claims, Niad Hannah pointed out to the security guard that the woman also was taking pictures with her iPhone with impunity. This showed, Niad Hannah said, that he was enforcing his rules unfairly. The suit says this is when the security guard called police, who escorted Niad Hannah and her husband (who was “sitting with headphones oblivious to Plaintiff’s encounter with the guard”) out of the stadium.

The suit says that the couple was “humiliated” being marched out in front of fans who know them and heckled by other fans, and that they missed the Dolphins kicking the game-winning field goal.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal