A hot dog injury is at the center of a lawsuit which may have huge impact on how professional baseball teams interact with their fans at baseball games in the future, according to an ESPN report on Friday.
At a Kansas City Royals baseball game in 2009, John Coomer was struck in the eye by a hot dog wrapped in foil, and the flying object has caused him to have worse vision – not to mention two eye surgeries which have cost him approximately $4,800 in medical bills. The four ounce hot dog, thrown into the stands by the team’s lion mascot Sluggerrr caused Coomer to suffer a detached retina and to need an artificial lens inserted into his eye.
Based on this case, the Missouri Supreme Court is now deciding whether the rule for fans attending baseball games applies. The “baseball rule” for fans is a legal standard that protects teams from being sued over injuries incurred by fans – by events on the baseball field, court, or rink. Coomer’s injury, of course, was caused by an employee of the team who is hired to engage the fans and not a member of the team involving played-action on the field.
Coomer, 53, from Overland Park, Kansas, asserts that he was injured at one of the Kansas City Royals’ September 2009 baseball game, and he is wanting over $20,000 from the team to settle the lawsuit.
Two years ago, jurors in a Jackson County courtroom responded to Coomer’s lawsuit and he did not win his case as the jurors announced that Coomer was to blame for his injury because he was not aware of what was going on around him. An appeals court then overturned that decision earlier this year by stating that being struck by a baseball is an inherent risk for fans at a baseball game but being hit with a hot dog isn’t.
Now that the state’s Supreme Court has heard the oral arguments, a ruling in the landmark case for sports teams awaits. No lawsuit of this type has been presented in the past. Should Coomer ultimately win the case, it will no doubt change how sports teams try to engage their on-site fans and reward them for attending the game rather than just being a television-viewing fan.