New York and the Yankees go hand-in-hand. The Yankees draw millions of fans, many of whom flock to Yankee Stadium to see their favorite team play. The New York City stadium can seat around 50,000 people. Most of those spectators likely have hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, some cheering and booing in mind. How many question the assumption of risk that they take on when attending a game?
In August 2011, a New Yorker attended a Yankee game and left, as he and his family claims, a changed person. According to the man's personal injury lawsuit against the team and Major League Baseball, he sustained injuries because spectators were negligently allowed to use umbrellas in the stadium during the game.
The plaintiff in the New York lawsuit says he was hit by a foul ball and injured because umbrellas that other spectators were using obstructed his view of the game. Therefore, he claims he didn't have a chance to see the foul ball coming in his direction in order to get a chance to try to protect himself from an injury.
Years after the incident occurred, there has still been no complete resolution to the personal injury case. The targets in this case, the Yankees and MLB, argue that they are protected from such lawsuits due to laws (printed on tickets) that say attendees of baseball games assume risk of injury by attending a game. The argument to try to validate this case is that allowing umbrellas in a stadium is not a reasonable danger to add to the mix. Some other stadiums, for example, do not allow the use of umbrellas.
Injuries happen to sports fans quite regularly. The teams and organizations that bring the joy and entertainment of athletics to their fans could be out of business if every injury resulted in insurance payouts. The ongoing case of this umbrella issue in New York challenges the assumption of risk laws that protect the sports organizations. If there is a ruling in this case, an update will be posted on this personal injury defense blog.