Hot Dog Injury Lawsuit Filed by Baseball Fan Goes Before Missouri Supreme Court

    November 2, 2013
    Erika Watts
    Comments are off for this post.

The Missouri Supreme Court is reviewing a lawsuit against the Kansas City Royals filed by a fan who was injured during a game in 2009. John Coomer, of Overland Park, Kansas, was injured after the Royals team mascot Slugerrr threw an aluminum wrapped hot dog at him. The fan seeks just over $20,000 in damages.

Coomer was hit in the eye with the hot dog and suffered a detached retina. The Kansas man has had two surgeries to repair the damage done by the hot dog that was thrown at him, which set him back $4,800 in medical expenses. The exact amount Coomer is suing for hasn’t been released, but it is said that he is suing for more than $20,000. The Missouri Supreme Court will have to decide whether Coomer’s lawsuit falls under the “baseball rule” before it can be heard.

Typically fan injuries at baseball stadiums are covered under the “baseball rule.” This rule protects the organization from being sued for fan injuries at games, such as being struck by a foul ball. Since Coomer was injured by the actions of the mascot, the Missouri Supreme Court will have to determine whether injury falls outside the umbrella of what the “baseball rule” covers.

“If a jury finds that the activity at issue is an inherent and unavoidable risk, the Royals owe no duty to their spectators,” Robert Tormohlen, Coomer’s attorney, said. “No case has extended the no-duty rule to the activities of a mascot.”

Some people believe that if the Missouri Supreme Court rules that the “baseball rule” doesn’t cover mascots, this will negatively affect the game experience for all fans. “If you could get a court to go the other way and say in-game entertainment is a natural part of playing baseball in the U.S. in the 21st century, that would be a tremendous precedent that could cut off future lawsuits,” Bob Jarvis, a sports law professor, said.

Do you think the Royals should be responsible for Coomer’s injury? Respond below.

[Image via WikiMedia Commons]

  • http://gofiggr.com Danof89

    As a Minnesota Twins and Dallas Cowboys fan, am I entitled to “pain and suffering”?

  • Jim Smith

    What was he looking at? You are supposed to pay attention to what is going on, on the field, instead of watching some hot babe going down the aisle.

    • @Jim

      There are a hundred different things to look at during a ball game. Half the people aren’t even watching the game. They are either eating, looking at the sites, or talking with friends in the stands. I am pretty sure if you almost lost an eye at a stadium you would sue too.

  • http://Yahoo Steve

    The baseball rule is based on an assumption of the risk argument. Basically the rule provides that if you voluntarily assume the risk of being hit by a foul ball then you are at least partly at fault. I have a very hard time believing that getting hit by a metal hot dog is a risk a person should be aware of in deciding to go to a baseball game.

    • tom

      I was not a “metal hot dog”. It was a hot dog wrapped in aluminum. Big difference. I think that’s a big difference. And he has the responsibility to measure both pay attention to what’s going on as in what’s may be flying through the air and/or to decide to step away (out of the line of fire) until the aluminum hot dogs being thrown in the air are done. This guy wants someone else to pay for his lack on attentiveness and/or use of good sense.

    • Lura

      I agree!!!

  • John

    I wonder how much has been paid to attorneys in this case? Had the Royals initially addressed this by offering to pay for the man’s out of pocket medical costs, it would probably have been taken care of without litigation. $5000 is small change. Some players make that every inning.

  • Settle Out of Court

    No one can reasonably expect that metal hot dogs will be flying at them at a baseball game. What moron came up with the idea of throwing them in the stands?

    Settle out of court. Stop paying lawyers all this money to defend something you will lose. You blinded a man by doing something stupid.

  • Beth

    This is the most ridiculous story I have ever read. Why would a mascot be throwing hot dogs in the first place? And if it were similar to shooting t-shirts from a t-shirt cannon it would have been announced prior to occurring; and if that were the case I would think everyone would have had their heads up. This person was injured and no matter if the team is responsible, the person in the mascot suit should be held personally accountable!

  • Anvil

    The Baseball Rule should not apply to this situation as play would not have been going on at this time, but most likely this happened during an on-field event in between innings to keep fans engaged. On-field events aside from the game itself do not fall under the Baseball Rule, as it would have to include all pre-game, between inning, and post game activities.

  • http:midnightbookworm.net Vin Smith

    …This is not a foul ball, or a broken bat shard. So, the fan would not be covered under the same umbrella that protects management–the “baseball rule.” However, the fan should have been cognizant of his surroundings, including the situation going on with the vendor. If another fan was purchasing the hot dog other than Mr. Coomer, then the organization should be responsible. If Mr. Coomer was buying the hot dog, the entire incident is on him. Will the courts decide this way? Experience tells me the court system is run by shysters, and the authorities are ordinarily about as dense as a fence post. Logic will likely not apply in this case.




  • L Cerrone

    The “Baseball Rule” does not apply here at all. The injury sustained by the fan had nothing to do with the playing of the game.

    It did, however, have to do with the temper of the individual inside the mascot suit. Whatever the motivation was (probably the fan saying something very inciting) is no excuse for throwing the hot dog. Anyone connected with the Franchise knows that fans will say and do the most outrageous things. Unless there was a direct assault from the fan to the Mascot, then if not the Team, then the Mascot is certainly liable for damages.



  • http://lovewithoutjesus.blogspot.com uzi peretz

    he can only sue if he didn’t eat the dog.

  • TJE

    A hot dog injury is no laughing matter. Maude Flanders was killed by a hot dog. Now poor Ned lost his second wife. Tragedy upon tragedy.

  • James Thompson

    If you are injured at any sport as a spectator YES they need to comp you for damages. Does a building need to fall on your children for you to see the light.

  • Shelley

    Why not? If a stupid person can spill hot coffee on them and win a million dollar lawsuit this person should be entitled to something. At least it wasn’t his fault

  • Sandy

    What would (could ) he have sued for if he were hit with a baseball? Just a thought.

    • Give me a break

      Nothing. Getting hit with a baseball or bat shard is covered under the baseball rule. So even if you had a head injury that cost $50k, you’re SOL. I think the basic principle of the rule should apply–you go in knowing there are certain risks that you have to be aware of. But seems like covering this guys bills would be cheaper than lawyer fees.

  • Reasonable Expectations

    You can reasonably expect for balls and bats to go into the crowd, so you pay attention to plays that involve those things. However, no one expects hotdogs to be flying in the air.

  • Lura

    I was agreeing with Steve, that is.

  • Nathan

    It’s ridiculous. Where else other than the US do you find these stupid frivolous lawsuits. Why couldn’t the fan just have spacial awareness like the rest of us and not be hit in the eyeball. So stupid, the “fan” should be embarrassed and just let insurance cover it like I would. The guy is a little bitch and should stop this crap and own up to it. This is one of many examples of why I hate the US and am embarrassed to be a citizen of this country.