The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Pro Sports

November 2, 2013

Fan injured by hot dog suing Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If it had been a foul ball or broken bat that struck John Coomer in the eye as he watched a Kansas City Royals game, the courts likely wouldn't force the team to pay for his surgeries and suffering.

But because it was a hot dog thrown by the team mascot — behind the back, no less — he just 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 also apply to injuries caused by mascots or the 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, 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.

Coomer, 53, declined to discuss the case. His lawsuit seeks an award of "over $20,000" from the team, but the actual amount he is seeking is likely much greater. Tormohlen declined to discuss the actual amount.

The Jackson County jurors who first heard the case two years ago sided with the Royals, saying Coomer was completely at fault for his injury because he wasn't aware of what was going on around him. An appeals court overturned that decision in January, however, ruling that while being struck by a baseball is an inherent risk fans assume at games, being hit with a hot dog isn't.

Text Only
Pro Sports
  • Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

    During a recent game at Wrigley Field, John Weber was using a pencil and scorecard to expertly track the game between his hometown Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 86-year-old retired transit worker figures he is an increasingly rare kind of baseball fan.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mike Lopresti: Pacers remain puzzling So now what? The NBA playoffs began Saturday night, and nothing had changed. They are still the Indiana Puzzles. They are still the enigma that no one can explain, least of all themselves. They are still a shadow of December, only now, the defeats start to really hurt.

    April 20, 2014

  • PACERS LEGEND 1.jpg Leonard still believes in the Pacers

    For the past 36 hours, the NBA universe has been buzzing about the decision made by Indiana Pacers' coach Frank Vogel to rest all of his starting five Wednesday in Milwaukee.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tiger Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters

    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.

    April 1, 2014

  • SPT - HB0325 - Adam Lind swing Momentum swinging in Lind's favor Adam Lind is hitting .386 with one home run and seven RBIs through 15 Grapefruit League games this spring.

    March 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0322 - Grigson art Grigson happy with offseason additions Though he stopped just short of declaring his shopping spree over, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear Friday he's happy with the team's offseason haul.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0318 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • George Bremer-2.JPG George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football

    Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_irsaymugshot.jpg Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bryant Orem said.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0316 - Nicks photo Nicks betting deal with Colts will pay off Hakeem Nicks is betting on himself. The 25-year-old wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring and a long injury history from five years with the New York Giants chose a fresh start in Indianapolis because he believes the pieces are in place for the franchise to make a long postseason run.

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo