Snooker legend Ken Doherty once said “The five S’s of sport are: stamina, strength, skill, speed, and spirit. The greatest of these is spirit.” Spirit is the reason why athletes train and compete with such fervor, and more importantly, why fans do things that defy logic and reason. So much so that, as we can see in the examples below, they lead to some of the most frivolous and absurd legal battles ever.
Spurs fan to the rescue
The 2017 NBA Western Conference Finals featured a thrilling matchup between two powerhouse teams, the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 got so chippy right off the bat that it resulted in the injury of one of the league’s biggest stars. Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was on the losing end of a contested jumper, spraining his ankle after landing on the Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia’s foot as he took a shot.
Spurs players and team officials themselves were angered upon seeing replays of the action, as Pachulia appeared to have intentionally placed his foot under Leonard as the latter took a three-point shot. But no one was more incensed than Spurs fan and San Antonio sports collectible store owner Juan Vasquez, who filed a $73,000 lawsuit against Pachulia for injuring Leonard. Sadly for the city of San Antonio, the Warriors swept the Spurs 4-0, the lawsuit did not prosper, and Mr. Vasquez remains a resident of the city to this day.
The slap seen around Italy
Football (soccer, to most North Americans) is passionately called “The Beautiful Game” by 3.5 billion football fans around the world. And because football fans are passionate about their sport, many of them tend to have some, uhm, violent tendencies when the football gods don’t swing in their favor.
Take ACF Fiorentina superfan Andrea Serrani, for example. Exiting the stadium after a 2-1 loss to rival team Empoli F.C. in Italy’s Serie A football league, Mr. Serrani was caught attempting to slap news reporter Greta Beccaglia in the face, live on air. Mr. Serrani was able to abort his swing at the last moment, but because a good number of television news viewers had seen the attempt, the damage was done. Ms. Beccaglia filed a harassment case against Mr. Serrani, and the police commissioner of Florence issued an order prohibiting Mr. Serrani from entering any sporting events in the city for three years, for good measure.
America’s favorite pastime
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, as it features some of the most American things in the world: junk food, beer, and Air Force flybys. Aside from these fun activities, another common sighting at Major League Baseball (MLB) games are sleeping fans. Most of the time, these dozing sports aficionados wake up to the loving applause and laughter of the stadium crowd, to which they respond with a sheepish smile and wave. But every now and then, one of these slumbering pundits will — as the meme goes — choose violence.
Andrew Rector filed suit in 2015 against ESPN, MLB, ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, and the New York Yankees for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The $10 million suit stemmed from Rector being caught on live television (and on the in-field Jumbotron) dozing off during the 4th inning of the Yankees-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. The MLB even made it a point to post Rector on their official YouTube channel as one of the game’s highlights.
The suit did not prosper, although it has become a common case study about defamation cases at sporting events.
Post no Bills
The NFL’s Buffalo Bills became part of an unusual case when it spammed a fan so much that the fan sued — and won. In 2012, Bills fan Jerry Wojcik signed up for an SMS-based automated newsletter service for the Bills because, well, what else do sports fans do? The program promised no more than five text messages per week, but all hell broke loose when Wojcik received six messages one week and seven the next.
An enraged Wojcik (along with several other disgruntled SMS-receivers) filed a $3 million class action suit against the Buffalo Bills, which subsequently won. Wojcik is now sitting pretty somewhere in the United States with his hard-earned compensation: a gift card from the Buffalo Bills amounting to his portion of the total suit compensation amount, which can only be used in the Bills online store and stadium gift shop. Congratulations, Jerry!
Your friends at the Renton Law Offices of Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams understand that personal injuries can happen anytime — even at sporting events! When such problems arise, ensure that your honor is protected and your injuries compensated by partnering with our competent litigation team. With our undivided attention and expertise, we will devise a winning legal strategy to help you get through this difficult time. Contact us for a consultation today!