Southfield, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 10, 2014 — Throwing food at a sports event is negligent. This case demonstrates that clearly.
The Kansas City Royals team mascot is a busy lion. Sluggerrr does his job and sends up rally cries on a regular basis, dances, performs and runs like the wind up and down the field. He also throws hotdogs at fans. “Which is not so good,” pointed out Daren Monroe of Litigation Funding Corporation, Michigan.
Sluggerrr, in the throes of revving the crowd up in 2009 in Overland Park in Kansas, pitched a hotdog, wrapped in foil, into fan bleacher seats. That missile struck John Coomer in the eye. He sustained severe enough injuries to require two surgeries to repair a detached retina, remove a cataract and have an artificial lens implanted. According to his lawyer, Coomer’s eyesight is worse now than it was prior to being hit in the eye and his medical bills are in excess of $4,800. “He is suing the team mascot for medical expenses, but the award may end up being more if punitive damages are brought into the mix,” Monroe added.
The case, being tried by the Missouri Supreme Court, is considering whether or not the well known “baseball rule” is applicable. The rule is a legal touchstone protecting teams from lawsuits by fans for injuries caused by events that happen on the game play area. The court needs to determine if injuries caused by a team mascot, or any other team personnel, fall under this rule. If they do decide the hotdog tossing Sluggerrr is responsible for Coomer’s injury, the decision will set a legal precedent and likely cause sports teams to re-evaluate how their employees engage and interact with fans.
The case has an interesting history in terms of court appearances. The first time it went to trial, jurors found for the Royals. On appeal, the decision was overturned, with the appellate court stating that while getting hit in the head with a ball or broken bat was highly likely at a game, getting hit by a flying hotdog was not. “There are very few cases dealing with what legal duty is owed to fans by a mascot, so this case is important,” said Monroe. The Royals insist the hotdog toss is an integral part of the game and all the fans are aware of it. Whether or not the court agrees is the question.
“To this point, Mr. Coomer would have been trying to keep up with his medical bills, which would likely be a struggle if he also lost time at work or had to quit his job due to failing eyesight. To keep up-to-date with his expenses, both current and extraordinary, he could have applied for litigation funding to carry him until his case was resolved. A lawsuit cash advance is often a huge benefit for plaintiffs faced with enormous medical bills and no way to either pay them or keep current with them.
“Not all plaintiffs find that a lawsuit loan works for them, but there are a number of advantages that they may find appealing if they do further research. Applicants are treated with respect and litigation-funding representatives thoroughly explain how the process works. If the case is decided for the defendant, plaintiffs keep the loan, with no strings attached,” explained Monroe.