$10 Million Defamation Lawsuit Of Sleeping Baseball Fan Dismissed In New York

article-0-1F75612F00000578-313_634x427We previously discussed the bizarre lawsuit by Andrew Rector, 26, who sued ESPN, the Yankees, Major League Baseball, and announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk are being sued by Andrew Rector, 26, for defamation after the network showed him asleep at the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game and joked about his being “oblivious” to the game. While Rector says that the commentators called him “stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid,” those insults are not heard on the videotape below from the telecast. Rector sued for $10 million in a complaint that I earlier criticized. The lawsuit has now been dismissed by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Julia Rodriguez, but Rector’s lawyer says that she sees a solid basis for appeal — though I fail to see such a basis. Indeed, given the condition of the original complaint, some judges might have awarded sanctions with the dismissal.

On the tape, ESPN announcer Dan Shulman refers to the sleeping fan as “oblivious,” while John Kruk comments that the ballpark was “not the place you come to sleep.” Those seem pretty accurate descriptions of the situation and “truth is a defense” to defamation. Indeed, Shulman marveled at the thought that the fan slept through a third inning home run by Yankee Carlos Beltran and 45,000 fans giving him a standing ovation.

Rector, who works for a Bronx-based auto leasing firm, alleges that he was defamed by comments portraying him as a “fatty cow that needs two seats” and a “confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual.” (A “fatty” cow? If the announcers called someone a “fatty cow,” they deserve to be sued on abuse of a colloquialism alone). Rector claims that “[t]hese unmitigated verbal onslaughts crossed the line between reporting on sport and abuse against the plaintiff without reasonable cause or restraint.”

The clip shows nothing more than gentle teasing with Shulman saying “Is that guy to his left his buddy who’s just letting him sleep?” Kruk then replies “Maybe that’s his buddy, and he likes him a lot better when he’s asleep.” Yet, Rector claims that “[a]nnouncers like Dan Shulman and John Kruck [sic] unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff. These words, include but not limited to ‘stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid’ knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world …” The use of “like” leaves it unclear as to who is being references but it suggests that somehow these defendants would be liable for comments from other individuals. Those other “announcers” may in fact be commenters on the ESPN website since the complaint states “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.” I assume his lawyer, Valentine Okwara, of Jamaica, N.Y., meant “present the plaintiffs as [a] symbol of [nothing] but failure.”

The complaint continues (with garbled syntax and typos) to allege that “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. . . . Nothing triggered all these assertions only that the plaintiff briefly slept off while watching the great game something or circumstance any one can easily found them self.” The lawyer seems to get one of the key defendant’s names wrong in stating that “John Krock 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.”

Rodriguez held that the comments were not defamatory, and at worst, reflected hyperbole or a looseness of words. She also said Rector was on camera for just 31 seconds of the three-hour game. However, Valentine Okwara, a lawyer for Rector, on Friday said he had advised his client that “there is room for appeal.” If so, it is so small as to be indiscernible to the legal eye.

Rector has made himself as far greater pitiful character with this poorly drafted, ill-considered lawsuit than he did in falling asleep at the game. He was previously shown to be a drowsy fan but proved himself something of a social clown in pursuing this claim. Most judges on an appeal would offer a far hasher response to the continuation of this litigation.

26 thoughts on “$10 Million Defamation Lawsuit Of Sleeping Baseball Fan Dismissed In New York”

  1. If you haven’t been slandered in mass media, then you don’t have much sympathy for it. One day if you end up being pilloried on TV or in the news rags, then you too will understand why he sued. $10 M is a ridiculous figure of course, but I am not sure the case was meritless given the insults made of a private person and the money the mass media will make exploiting this case for their own glory.

  2. Both the lawyer and the plaintiff need to be seated on the back of the bus. Segregation has its benefits. No one wants to sit next to fat guy sleeping and rolling over on you and no one wants to listen to some nit wit who can not speak the King’s English. Back of the bus.

  3. It’s a HIM, and he hails from NIGERIA–at least, that’s what I suspect. I have some sympathy for the attorney–yes, just some. I have studied various foreign languages for years, and I can personally attest to the fact that it is incredibly difficult–actually, nearly impossible–to write or speak a second language without the appearance of misplaced terms and/or incorrect wording. Having said that, the difference is that I completely comprehend my limitations in this area, and I would never dream of filing a motion in French, despite my years of studying that language. To someone from France, my petition, riddled with mistakes and misused terms, would be comical. I strongly suspect that our purported victim, Rector, shopped this lawsuit around for quite some time before finding some desperate attorney willing to take it on as a case. Perhaps the same ability, on the part of Rector, to hear words or phrases never uttered by the broadcasters, also served to allow him to tune out Mr. Okwara’s garbling of the English language.

  4. bam bam

    Sometimes truth is hard to find under the corrupt judges, paid for convictions prosecutors, incompetent attorneys, etc. But it is the best system around between benevolent dictators.

  5. “Rector, who works for a Bronx-based auto leasing firm, alleges that he was defamed by comments portraying him as a “fatty cow that needs two seats” and a “confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual.” (A “fatty” cow? If the announcers called someone a “fatty cow,” they deserve to be sued on abuse of a colloquialism alone).”

    LOL. Please remember, when reading or dealing with NYC- it is an alien planet.

  6. The guy was in a public place and did something embarrassing. He got featured, but the announcers did not say those things that hurt special snowflake’s feelings.

    The internet, faceless and cruel crowd, is the source of those cutting remarks. You cannot hold the announcers who featured in a short clip, responsible for what other people say. If THEY, the announcers had spoken those mean remarks, probably he would have some sort of a case. They didn’t and he doesn’t.

  7. TinEar

    While the American educational system has its flaws, Valentine does not appear to have received any of his training in the United States. A quick google of his name yields a few facts, which should be noted. He is listed as speaking Igbo, so I assume that he is a transplant from the great country of Nigeria. Of course, I could be wrong. He could’ve just studied Igbo for kicks, but I’m going with the assumption that Mr. Okwara is a transplant from the western part of Africa. That would explain his mangled use of the English language. Not an excuse–just an explanation, of sorts. American law schools are, therefore, not on the hook for this guy. Not this time, at least. They didn’t lower their standards to pass this guy; however, it appears as though Valentine did receive a law degree in England. Okay, well, at least that’s what he claims when listing his credentials. One of England’s institutions of higher learning shuffled this guy through the system. If you want to criticize something, why not question how someone with such poor writing skills could manage to pass the essay portion of the NY Bar Exam? Diversity has its costs.

  8. TinEar, Personal injury litigation became an industry ~40 years ago. Many people don’t remember when attorneys could not advertise. When they were allowed to advertise, law school admissions skyrocketed and so did litigation. It is an industry that employs not just attorneys and judges, but all the people who supplement the industry, like health care professionals, paralegals, court reporters, secretaries, PI’s, etc. Serendipity was in play when I became a PI ~35 years ago.

  9. The glut of lawyers in the U.S. results in increasingly frivolous lawsuits, such as this one, as these excess lawyers struggle to earn a living. And given the typos and grammatical errors in the complaint, one must question the quality of the education being provided in some of America’s lower rated law schools. As I have previously stated on this blog, the ABA has failed miserably in upholding accreditation standards for U.S. law schools.

  10. The fan got his feelings hurt. So he sued them for it. Political correctness didn’t work for this libber and he lost. His cousin Vinny could’ve told him that. lol

  11. Did the plaintiff (sleeper guy) file the lawsuit himself without counsel? If there was a lawyer did he sleep through his ethics courses in law school? The defendants should have filed cross complaints. The sleeper was a danger to others. His farts were obnoxious. He looks mentally deranged. He gives the appearance of one widely traveled.
    (music- to the tune of The Jets)
    He’s a dork, he’s a dork.
    He’s a dork all the way. From his first Yankee game to his last dying day.

  12. Refreshing to read a judge dismissed this case. Early in my career a case like this would have been dismissed quickly by a judge. Now, judges just don’t often dismiss frivolous lawsuits like they used to decades ago.

    Regarding the comments the plaintiff alleges were uttered by the ESPN crew calling him “fatty, unintelligent, etc.” That was his girlfriend who said that.

  13. I hear that he has an additional lawsuit against the City of New York. The suit alleges that the city built the sidewalks too close to his ass.

  14. I see no basis for appeal, but then the courts have been so screwy lately maybe they will give him one. I can just hear the oral argument on this for SCOTUS.

  15. He heard a series of microaggressions amounting to slander and libel, if they include the website. As an abused liberal he is due millions.

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