Long time readers of this blog might remember my posts on a case filed back in 2010 by a spectator at a Kansas City Royals baseball game who was struck in the eye by a hot dog thrown by the team's mascot. As I said in my original post on the case, it is often stated that spectators at a baseball game assume the risk of getting hit by foul balls. Technically speaking, this is not necessarily correct since the issue in those cases is not really a question of assumption of the risk, but rather one of whether the defendant owes a duty to the plaintiff... but that is another story. The case generated much commentary (see here for links).
Eventually, the case went to trial and the jury found for the defendant. I commented on the verdict here, where I also posted a video of the mascot throwing hot dogs. You can judge the conduct for yourself.
The jury's verdict, however, was recently reversed and, as I said in my post on the opinion, that was the correct decision. (In that post, I have a link to the opinion itself, if you want to take a look at it.) As opposed to many of the other cases on the subject of sports injuries,
the court in this case does a better job of explaining the issue.
What is interesting is that the question in the hot dog tossing case is whether there
should be a duty to protect spectators from risks involved in
watching baseball games other than the risks inherent to the game of baseball. As the court suggests, the answer at this
point is "maybe" if the risk is inherent to the game but probably no, if
the risk is not inherent and, more so, if it is created by the
negligence of the defendant himself.
Do the risks created by a mascot throwing
promotional items arise from the inherent nature of a baseball
game? The question is now before the Missouri Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last month. Here is a comment on the argument.