Good people of St. Louis, Daily RFT would like to submit for your pleasure the single greatest legal opinion ever written, in the case of John Coomer v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corporation.
While the case does involve a very serious injury to poor Mr. Coomer, the rest of the details are a scream. It involves a mascot, a hot dog, and one burning philosophical question:
When a man enters a baseball stadium, is he not in essence resigning himself to the possibility of grievous bodily harm by hot dog?
So, here is how the Hotdog Launch with beloved Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerrr is supposed to go:
And here is how it went for poor Coomer. He went to a game in 2009 with his father, and the two availed themselves of two empty seats they spied in the sixth row behind the third base dugout. That put them squarely in firing range of Sluggerrr, as played by a John Bryon Shores, once the infamous Hotdog Launch began. Here are the inner workings of the tradition, as imparted in court documents:
In between innings, the Royals launched 20-30 hotdogs to the fans, either through an air gun or by a hand throw. The hotdogs shot out of the air gun were wrapped in bubble wrap and the ones Mr. Shores threw were typically wrapped in foil. Mr. Shores testified that he used a number of types of throws to entertain the fans: "overhand, over the shoulder, behind the back...sidearm."
Coomer saw Shores begin to toss a hot dog behind his back, but turned and was looking away when a hot dog beaned him in the eye so hard it knocked off his hat. "Mr. Coomer was convinced it was a straight-line throw rather than the soft overhand tosses Mr. Shores had previously been making."
Coomer suffered tearing and detachment of his retina and had to have surgery. He lost his vision in that eye for three weeks, then had a cataract. He now has an artificial lens in that eye.
Coomer sued the Royals and though a jury has already ruled that the club bore zero fault, the appeals court handed down a different opinion this week. Here is our favorite part, on Coomer's argument that a "mascot throwing hotdogs directly at business invitees is not an inherent or unavoidable risk of the game of baseball":
The Royals, however, argue that the Hotdog Launch was a customary activity at the games, and Mr. Coomer thus acquiesced to the risk by attending the game. It asserts that Mr. Coomer testified that he had probably been to 175 baseball games at Royals Stadium, Mr. Coomer saw promotional items thrown at baseball games, and he knew it was part of the experience. He had also specifically seen the Hotdog Launch...We agree that these facts point to a conclusion that the Hotdog Launch was a customary activity at Royals games. That the launch was a customary activity, however, does not equate to a patron's consent to the risks of being hit by a promotional item. Inherent risks are those that inure in the nature of the sport itself.
Coomer is being allowed to move forward with his appeal.
Hear that mascots? Your MLB-sanctioned reign of terror is over. We the fans will no longer suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hot dogs.
Read the whole ruling here: