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

    November 2, 2013

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]