Apparently it's not just flying bats and balls you have to watch out for at Major League Baseball stadiums these days. MLB officials may have to post warning signs for flying hot dogs now too.
According to the Associated Press, per ESPN.com, the Royals are being sued because John Coomer of Overland Park, Kan., was hit in the eye with a hot dog thrown into the stands by none other than the team's mascot all the way back in September of 2009.
Coomer, of Overland Park, Kan., says he was injured at a September 2009 Royals game when the team's lion mascot, Sluggerrr, threw a 4-ounce, foil-wrapped wiener into the stands that struck his eye. He had to have two surgeries -- one to repair a detached retina and the other to remove a cataract that developed and implant an artificial lens. Coomer's vision is worse now than before he was hurt and he has paid roughly $4,800 in medical costs, said his attorney, Robert Tormohlen.
Had it been a foul ball or broken bat that struck Coomer, the Royals likely wouldn't have been liable to pay for the injuries sustained. But since it was a hot dog from the hands of the team's mascot, the Associated Press report states that Coomer may have a case.
The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether the "baseball rule" -- a legal standard that protects teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by events on the field, court or rink -- should apply to injuries caused by mascots or other personnel that teams employ to engage fans. Because the case could set a legal precedent, it could change how teams in other cities and sports approach interacting with fans at their games.
Coomer is seeking over $20,000 worth of damages, according to the same report, but that amount may be much higher. Coomer's attorney, Robert Tormohlen, has refused to comment on the exact amount, however.
Tormohlen makes the case that the "baseball rule" doesn't extend to mascots, per the AP:
If a jury finds that the activity at issue is an inherent and unavoidable risk, the Royals owe no duty to their spectators. No case has extended the no-duty rule to the activities of a mascot.
If you're wondering why it took so long for this case to come about, it's because Coomer's suit was shot down by jurors two years ago. They sided with the Royals because they felt Coomer "wasn't aware of what was going on around him," according to a Kansas City Star report.
In January, Coomer was given another shot when an appeals court overturned the decision by the jury, saying that while getting hit by a baseball is a clear and understandable risk, getting hit with a flying hot dog is not.
The Royals have declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but did note that the hot dog toss has been apart of games since 2000 and is as much a part of the ballpark experience as what goes on on the field during a game.
In the Associated Press' report, SUNY Cortland sports management professor Jordan Korbitz believes a ruling in Coomer's favor could force teams around the league to change the way they do promotions.
Consider Coomer's case one that could make a huge dent in the way sports teams handle promotions, although I'm sure we can all do without things being fired into the stands during games should he win.