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Inherit the Weiner: KC Royals mascot, Sluggerrr, on trial today for hot dog assault

Mar 8, 2011, 2:51 PM EDT

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What happens when mascots put down the hot dog cannon and begin fighting hand to hand? Eventually we end up in court, which is what’s happening today in Kansas City. During a game in Sept. of 2009, John Coomer, a Royals fan, was struck in the face with a hot dog hurled by Sluggerrr, the Royals’ mascot. Sluggerrr had been firing weiners into the crowd with the cannon (pictured), but then began tossing them manually. That’s when he hit Coomer, according to the lawsuit filed in Feb. of 2010. Testimony begins today in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Coomer claims in his lawsuit the hot dog incident left him with a detached retina and he developed a cataract.

The lawsuit claims the team was negligent. Coomer seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

That’s interesting, because there’s a disclaimer on every MLB ticket that protects the team from liability due to balls, bats, Derek Jeter, etc., flying into the stands and injuring someone. But what if that object is not a figurative hot dog like, say Alex Rodriguez, but instead is a literal one? Doesn’t a fan have a reasonable expectation of not being hit with flying meat products?

That question will be at the crux of litigation which, if not being shown gavel-to-gavel on Court TV, certainly should be.

According to Michael McCann, an associate professor of law at Vermont Law School, Coomer could claim that he had no option of sitting in a mascot-free area of the stadium, where food-related shenanigans would not occur. But the Royals also could argue, says McCann, that Coomer wasn’t paying close enough attention to what was obviously happening right in front of him.

Coomer may have bought a game ticket to watch a game, not to watch Slugger or deal with Slugger’s hot dog firing/throwing. Put another way, should games be viewed as one event — from the first pitch to the last, from tipoff to the final buzzer — or are they really two events, one being what takes place during the actual plays, the other being what happens between plays?

So if I’m hit by the basketball half-court shot thrown by some guy trying to win a free pizza at halftime, is that the same as being doused with hot coffee by Ron Artest during the game? We’ll see. This trial could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and decide the very nature of sports, and concessions, as we know them.

Kansas City Royals hot dog-injury lawsuit begins today [The Pitch]
McCann on ‘Game Presentation’ and Torts: The Unappreciated Dangers of Flying Hotdogs [TortsProf Blog]
Trial begins in man’s lawsuit claiming Royals mascot Slugger injured him with a hot dog [NBCActionNews]