KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
In that case, a minor league baseball team's dinosaur brushed against a fan, distracting him right before he was struck by a ball that broke several bones in his face. The court said mascot antics weren't essential or integral to the playing of a game. The case was later settled for an undisclosed sum, Jarvis said.
Furthermore, not all courts have treated the baseball rule as sacrosanct. Earlier this year, the Idaho Supreme Court allowed a fan who lost an eye to a foul ball at a minor league baseball game to proceed with his lawsuit against the team. The court said that since baseball fan injuries are so rare in Idaho, there didn't seem to be a compelling reason for the court to step in.
In the Kansas City case, a ruling in the Royals' favor would indicate that mascots are, indeed, an essential part of the game experience, Jarvis said. If that happens, the Kansas City case would likely supplant the 1997 California case as the one attorneys look at when deciding whether to file a lawsuit on behalf of an injured fan.
"If you could get a court to go the other way and say in-game entertainment is a natural part of playing baseball in the U.S. in the 21st century, that would be a tremendous precedent that could cut off future lawsuits," Jarvis said.