I am in Houston today and this story caught my eye on the way to Utah (which appears a much safer place in the absence of roaming, battery-causing mascots). Yes, we have another mascot-related sports torts case. Jennifer Harughty alleges the Astros mascot Orbit “shattered” her finger during a July 2018 game in Houston when she was hit by a flying tee-shirt fired from a “bazooka style” cannon. It is an all-too familiar claim as fans find themselves on the wrong end of a mascot projectile. She is suing for $1 million.
We previously discussed the torts case involving the Kansas City Royals mascot Slugerrr, who blew out a fan’s eye with a foil-covered hotdog launched with an air cannon. Then we discussed a similar lawsuit involving the Phillies’ after Kathy McVay was hit by a duct taped hotdog launched by the Phillies mascot Phanatic.
What is interesting is that we discussed the difference between such hotdog missiles and teeshirts. The latter seem less likely to injure but that is not the case with Harughty who clearly suffered a serious injury. She had to have two surgeries on a “shattered” index finger and the implanting of two screws. She was sitting halfway up the first deck behind the third base at the time of the incident.
These cases often raise Plaintiff conduct issues. First, the team argues that the fans are aware of the tradition and voluntarily come to the game. There are often warnings on the ticket or at the park, though she is using for the lack of such warnings. Second, if Harughty’s index finger was shattered, it appears that she must have been trying to catch the teeshirt, assuming the risk. Nevertheless, most people would not expect the force to be so great. She is claiming negligence and a lack of both warning and proper supervision.
This could be a rare case of a tightly bounded teeshirt hitting in just the wrong way. However, there is a valid negligence action here.
Even if the action fails, it could result in long-needed discovered into what exactly Orbit is as a mascot. Ok, I know that I am a Cubs fan, but I am not sure what Orbit is . . . other than some space alien who is cutting down innocent women with a teeshirt spewing weapon of destruction.