There’s a Supreme Court-mandated legal standard in Missouri, known unofficially as “the baseball rule,” that protects sports teams from being sued over any injury sustained by a fan in the stands or on the field or court. But the jury is out on whether this standard applies to injuries caused by team mascots.
You read that right. It seems that John Coomer of Overland Park, Kansas, was injured at a 2009 Royals game by a flying wiener thrown by Sluggerrr, the team’s lion mascot. Apparently the faux feline tossed a foil-wrapped hotdog into the Kauffman Stadium stands, striking Coomer in the eye. The sports fan has since endured a pair of surgeries: one to repair a detached retina; the other to remove a cataract that developed later. According to his attorney, Coomer’s vision is worse now than before the injury.
His lawsuit, which could set a legal precedent changing the way that pro teams in other cities approach fan interaction, seeks more than $20,000 in damages from the team. The suit was originally thrown out by a Jackson County jury two years ago, when jurors ruled that Coomer was to blame for his injury because he “wasn’t aware of what was going on around him.” But an appeals court overturned that decision earlier this year ruling that, while being struck by a baseball is a familiar risk most fans assume at pro games, being hit with flying sausages is not.
A spokesman for the Royals has issued a statement that the hot dog toss has been a popular fan attraction at Kauffman Stadium since 2000, and is simply part of any game held there. It shouldn’t be, insists Coomer’s attorney.
At least Coomer was able to find a lawyer to represent him. Not so the fellow in Long Island who tried to steal some Big Macs earlier this month. New York police arrested a 33-year-old man who allegedly walked up to a McDonald’s drive-through window and threatened to shoot employees unless they handed over some hamburgers.
Juan Mendez-DePaz allegedly told the drive-up worker that he was packing heat when he visited the fast food restaurant. In response, the employee closed the window and called the police. State troopers confronted Mendez-DePaz in the McDonald’s parking lot; he was wearing a cowboy hat and showing off a large knife hanging from his hip. He was taken into custody after a brief struggle, and later charged with criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree robbery.
No hamburgers were found in his possession.