A hot dog injury lawsuit is making its way all the way up to Missouri’s highest court, as an injured fan has petitioned the Supreme Court for damages relating to his 2009 injury, reports Sports Illustrated on Nov. 1.
John Coomer, 53, says he was struck in the eye by a 4-ounce wrapped hot dog thrown at him by the Royals mascot during a game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Coomer said his injuries were ”severe,” and have forced him to undergo two surgeries – one to mend a detached retina and a second surgery to repair and implant an artificial lens – in addition to mounting medical bills to the tune of $5,000.
Coomer claims in his suit that the Royals are responsible for his medical injuries and for additional damages because they “failed to adequately train its agents in the proper method in which to throw hotdogs and buns into the stands at Kauffman Stadium.”
You know what they say at sports events: It’s all bun and games until someone gets hurt.
In the docs, Coomer claims Slugger (the Royals mascot) “lost control of his throw or was reckless with his throw, and threw the hotdog directly into the Plaintiff.”
I’m not sure what sporting venue has a program to instruct their costumed mascots the proper way to lob foil-wrapped encased meats at vulnerable spectators, but Slugger clearly needed to take something off that wicked slider of his.
His lawsuit seeks an award of over $20,000 from the team, but the actual amount he is seeking is likely much greater. (Coomer's attorney Robert) Tormohlen declined to discuss the actual amount.
The Jackson County jurors who first heard the case two years ago sided with the Royals, saying Coomer was completely at fault for his injury because he wasn't aware of what was going on around him. An appeals court overturned that decision in January, however, ruling that while being struck by a baseball is an inherent risk fans assume at games, being hit with a hotdog isn't.
The legal precedent set by the “Baseball Rule,” which applies equally to all sporting events, is that fans take on an assumed and an inherent risk of injury when attending such events. For example, the risk of being struck by a puck at a hockey game or a flying bat at a baseball game (or trampled under the footfalls of 89,000 people at a European soccer match).
But an airborne concession is completely different, and as frivolous as it all sounds, Coomer may actually have a case with Missouri’s Supreme Court. If the court sides with Coomer, then all those extra activities at sporting events – the t-shirt launchers, the half court basketball shot, the score-a-goal through the tiny hole for a new car – may be a thing of the past if sports teams are vulnerable to litigation outside of the actual game.