The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether the “baseball rule” applies to an eye injury caused accidentally by the Kansas City Royals’ mascot Sluggerrr, who flung a foil-wrapped hot dog that struck the left eye of John Coomer. Although this seemingly harmless act would ordinarily be of no consequence, the foiled hot dog hit the left eye of Mr. Coomer, requiring two eye surgeries. He has a serious eye injury today with vision deficit.
The “baseball rule” is a legal standard that protects sports teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by events on the field. The issue in this case, now pending a decision before the Missouri Supreme Court, is whether the rule would apply to injuries caused by a mascot or other personnel the teams employ to entertain sports fans.
The case was first before a Jackson County, Mo., jury two years ago. The jury sided with the Royals, stating that Coomer was completely at fault for his injury because he wasn’t aware of what was going on around him. However, on appeal, the jury’s verdict was overturned; the ruling stated that although being struck by a baseball is an inherent risk fans assume at games, being hit in the face and eye by a hot dog is not one of those.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in September and is now considering both the written briefs and oral argument in making its decision. No timeline has been disclosed. The case is being closely watched. In the event that the Missouri Supreme Court decides in favor of the Kansas City Royals, it would likely set a standard that the entertainment part of a game is a part of playing baseball and would prevent any future lawsuits against sports teams.
On the other hand, if the case goes in favor of Mr. Coomer, it would open the way to other fan injury cases being successful if the injury were related to personnel entertaining fans rather than the game itself.
John Coomer v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corporation, 2013 Missouri Supreme Court.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Edgebrook, Jefferson Park, Polish Village, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Little Village, Stockyards), Elmhurst, Rolling Meadows, Clarendon Hills, Lemont, Orland Park, Midlothian, Calumet Park, Calumet City and Oak Lawn, Ill.
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