News Sleeping Yankee Fan Files $10 Million Lawsuit

  1. A Yankees fan caught napping at Yankee Stadium has reportedly filed a $10 million lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees, ESPN and its announcers. The complaint, filed on July 3, alleges that the plaintiff was disparaged and humiliated during the televised broadcast of the Yankees - Red Sox baseball game that took place in late April.

    In the complaint, Andrew Robert Rector alleges that ESPN announcers, Dan Shulman and John Kruk, ridiculed him for being "oblivious" to the action at Yankee Stadium. Furthermore, he claims that he was subjected to an "unending verbal crusade" - which included comments about Rector's weight and a video that appeared the on mlb.com website which included the image of two men kissing. The video on the MLB website still appears with the title "Tired fan naps in the stands" and description "A fan in the stands takes a snooze during the 4th inning of the Red Sox/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium." It does not contain the most offensive words alleged in the complaint ("tupor, fatty , unintelligent , stupid.")

    Perhaps not coincidental, the Bronx Supreme Court happens to be conveniently located across the street from Yankee Stadium. Cross Rivera Avenue and the number 4 subway station and you're a three minute walk to the courthouse.

    yankee-stadium-courthouse-map.jpg
    The New York - Boston rivalry is well known for being heated and usually brings a great deal of action to the ballpark, especially in the stands. I recall attending a playoff game at Yankee Stadium and watching a Red Sox jersey being passed forward to the front of the stands and being handed to a security guard. Upon further observation I discovered that it had been successfully removed from a Red Sox fan without his consent.

    Some have raised the issue of the expectation of privacy of fan who attends an event at a private venue. While the capacity of Yankee Stadium exceeds 50,000 persons, it is not a "public place" that is freely open to the general public. Access is limited and the Yankees extract significant licensing fees for the copyrighted broadcast of Major League Baseball games and other events that occur at Yankee Stadium. In most instances, legal terms are listed on the back of tickets and may contain a link to a more complete set of terms and conditions to which the ticket holder assents upon entry into the stadium, arena or venue. The Yankee Stadium Policies and Procedures does not seem to cover the issue regarding consent. However, the following appears on e-tickets purchased for access to other Major League Baseball stadiums:

    This ticket grants MLB, Padres and anyone authorized by the Padres irrevocable permission to use the holder’s voice, image or likeness for any live or recorded video display, broadcast or other transmission, reproduction or other depiction in any media now or hereafter existing for any legal purpose without the consent of the holder.

    Below is a section of the complaint, which appears in full on The Smoking Gun website, and contains numerous grammatical and typographical errors.

    9.1n the course of watching the game plaintiff napped and this opened unending verbal crusade against the napping plaintiff.

    10. ESPN Cameras focused on the plaintiff, Announcers like Dan Shulman and John Kruck unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff. These words, include but not limited “.. stupor, fatty , unintelligent , stupid” knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world, including people that know the plaintiff in person or interacted with the plaintiff.

    11.The defendant Major league Baseball continually repeated these vituperative utterances against the plaintiff on the Major league Baseball web site the next day. These words and its insinuations presented the plaintiff as symbol of anything but failure

    12.The defendant MLB.Com continued the onslaught to a point of comparing the plaintiff to someone of a confused state of mind, disgusted disgruntled and unintelligent and probably intellectually bankrupt individual

    13.Nothing triggered all these assertions only that the plaintiff briefly slept off while watching the great game something or circumstance anyone can easily found them self.

    14.John Kruck in his verbal attack insinuated that the plaintiff is individual that know neither
    history nor understood the beauty or rivalry between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee.

    15.These unmitigated verbal onslaughts crossed the line between reporting on sport and abuse against the plaintiff without reasonable cause or restraint, not just from the literal meaning of all the words or statements but from the unexpressed implication of the statements as well as the pictures and captions like "Sleeping Yankee fan cares not for your Rivalry Talk".

    16.Plaintiff assert that defendants are guilty of juxtaposition of a series of fact that imply Defamatory connection between them, and in so doing they create a defamatory implication even though the particular fact are connected.

    17.Plaintiff alleges that MLB. Com, juxtapositions of photos and text of two men kissing each other and caption "sleeping Yankee's Fan cares not for your rivalry talk" falsely implied that plaintiff engaged in that type of conduct described or portrayed by the picture. In light of all the surrounding circumstances.​
    Legal Practice:
    Injury - Defamation
    Jurisdiction:
    • New York

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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