Browns Fan Sues Team Over Misidentification In Beer Dumping Episode At Titans Game


There is an interesting lawsuit in Ohio where Eric Smith is suing the Cleveland Browns after he was falsely accused of being the fan who poured beer on Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan last month after he jumped in the stands to celebrate a touchdown. He is alleging negligence, defamation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, false light, and loss of consortium as a result of being misidentified and then banned from future games. He claims that he has not been to a game since 2010 and was serving as a DJ at a wedding at the time of the incident.

The incident occurred after Titans’ Malcolm Butler returned a pick six for 38 yards. The coverage captured a Browns’ fan dumping beer over Ryan. After the players objected, the football league promised action and the Browns investigated. The Complaint states:

On September 11th, 2019 at approximately 9:00 am less than 24 hours
after the so-called investigation, Bob Sivik Vice President of Sales and Tickets called Eric Smith’s office to inform him that they used footage from multiple security cameras in the stadium to match his face and arm tattoo. Further, this call was heard by Plaintiff’s office staff.

. . .

Plaintiff further states that despite this information, Bob Sivik, was rude,
short, and dismissive and was clearly on a mission to resolve this bad press for the Cleveland Browns and nonetheless told the Plaintiff that he was a liar, had been identified by video surveillance tapes and was banned from First Energy Stadium.

The Complaint states that Smith told Sivik at the time that he had not been to the stadium in years and was involved in the wedding. However, it was not until later that the team called to apologize.

To make matters worse, the Eric Smith who purchased the ticket does not appear to be the same man and appears to have switched seats with the real culprit, who still has not been identified.

Part of the difficulty presented by the Complaint is the damages. There is no question that the team was negligent in the Sivik call and Vice President of Communications Peter John-Baptiste allegedly said “Our intent was to act swiftly and decisively. Unfortunately, we didn’t do enough homework.” However, the team insists that they had “not explicitly identified the individual involved or taken any formal action of punishment” before realizing their mistake. However, some reports say that Smith was banned after the initial identification.

That leads to a question of the real injury and damages. Smith alleges that the stress of the call was witnessed by office colleagues and that the resulting anxiety not only cause emotional distress but deprived he and his wife of intimate relations. Moreover, he claims that the failure to make a more complete apology means that the “mental anguish, loss of income, loss of enjoyment and companionship and will continue to cause these maladies into the foreseeable future.” Without more, a jury could be skeptical on those elements.

What do you think?

Here is the complaint: Smith v. Browns

24 thoughts on “Browns Fan Sues Team Over Misidentification In Beer Dumping Episode At Titans Game”

  1. “…they used footage from multiple security cameras in the stadium to match his face and arm tattoo. Further, this call was heard by Plaintiff’s office staff.”

    I’d like to know more about how they identified him.

    “Why We Must Ban Facial Recognition Software Now”

    “The benefits do not come close to outweighing the risks.”

    By Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog

    Oct. 17, 2019

    He deserves a sizable settlement.

  2. As usual, the right-wingers on this blog, caught up in their usual snarkyness and distraction, deliberately avoid consideration of the “elephant in the room”: the implications of surveillance (whether commercial or governmental). Perhaps it’s because said right-wingers are at heart authoritarians, and like surveillance, or at least are quite willing to rationalize it and be apologists for it. But here’s a case where a person was incorrectly identified via surveillance and facial recognition, and action was taken against him. No small thing in its implications, but not a peep about that from the right-wing peanut gallery here.

    1. Biologist – I tape the camera on my mic and I confuse my Alexa and Google by getting them to talk to each other. What would you suggest.

      1. Covering your device cameras is a good start. As far as Alexa, Siri, and the various other so-called audio interactives, I’d never have one in my home. (I will admit they could be desirable for someone getting on in years or otherwise infirm, but personally, I would still rather take my chances than have any surveillance device in my home.)

        But that wasn’t my point here. My point was that “the usual suspects” commenters here, supposedly valuers of “freedom”, made no comment regarding the assault on freedom that our modern surveillance society is, and which the false accusation case referenced in Turley’s post is a definite example of.

        1. Biologist – it is funny when Google and Alexa start talking to each other. They are good at a variety of tasks. I watch a fair amount of YouTube and my Alexa is named Amazon, so it gets set of about 20 times a day. 😉 It can never answer the question.

          On misidentification, that has always been a problem. I watch a lot of Forensic Files and one of the problems they have is with eye-witness testimony. It is often wrong.

          1. Biologist:
            He is in public numbnuts. About as public as it gets. You have no expectation of privacy. You can be surveilled and it’s legal. It’s designed to keep you safe and to disprove false claims. You oughta confine your proselytizing to lab rats instead of providing us unbridled glee with your silly commentary.

            1. Mespo said: “It’s designed to keep you safe and to disprove false claims. ”

              That’s the party line. And mespo’s bought it — hook, line and sinker.

              What will he say when cameras are found in homes, his law office, etc. It’s only a matter of time before more of our “private spaces” become…well, not so private.

              It’s already begun. Next time you’re in bed with your wife, just remember — someone might be watching and listening. And you’d never know. That’s how easy it is these days. Ask Ed Snowden.

                1. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

                  You’re used to being one of the smartest guys in the room. You’re smart enough, one might suppose, but there are things that you clearly don’t know.

                  1. Anonymous:

                    “You’re used to being one of the smartest guys in the room. You’re smart enough, one might suppose, but there are things that you clearly don’t know.”
                    I do know the divergent concepts of private versus public areas which you conflate with the feeble “it’s only a matter of time before more of our private spaces become …. not so private.” Oh yeah, why? Cause you say so? If cameras are found in private areas, a legal cause of action exists for breach of privacy. Private areas include my house, my office and other legally recognized areas where I have a right to expect privacy. A ballpark with thousands of people isn’t such a place as any bright fourth grader could tell you. Organ-backed predictions of dire consequences usually have a stunning fact or two to support them like “Japanese Zeros are circling Pearl” or the “Courts are weakening the concept of private areas.” The courts aren’t but maybe your tautology with a little twist is true for you and not me: “You don’t know, because you don’t care to know.” Btw, I’m never one of the smartest guys in the room nor claim to be. I’m merely the most rational one in this conversation.

        2. Quite a few dim bulbs hang out here, posting multiple comments on a daily basis.

          You’re right, but these folks just don’t get it.

  3. I’ve never quite understood the immense appeal spectator sports have to much of the population. That aside, the athletes usually have no particular association with the city in which the the team is domiciled, college teams are commonly the loci of institutional corruption, and there are a great many self-indulgent louts in the world of professional athletics.

    1. Yes, and in the world of opera and other music, ballet, and art. That doesn’t keep most humans from enjoying and in some cases from being inspired by the extremes of human achievement, some of which are in simulated competition. Perhaps you meant to say you don’t “share” the appreciation of spectator sports as certainly you must “understand” it. Some people don’t like opera and ballet.

  4. If they gave him, say, season tickets to all Browns home games, could he sue again for infliction of more emotional distress?

  5. I hope he gets everything he asks for. I think selling alcohol at events should be illegal.

  6. All he needs is a well-credentialed psychiatrist to testify about how devastated he was over the false accusation.

Comments are closed.