The Missouri Supreme Court has answered a question that has haunted baseball fans for generations: When we go to the ball park are we assuming the risk of being hit on the eye by a hot dog thrown by a mascot?
In an opinion issued on June 24th, the Court ruled
In the past, this Court has held that spectators cannot sue a baseball team for injuries caused when a ball or bat enters the stands. Such risks are an unavoidable – even desirable – part of the joy that comes with being close enough to the Great American Pastime to smell the new-mown grass, to hear the crack of 42 inches of solid ash meeting a 95-mph fastball, or to watch a diving third baseman turn a heart-rending triple into a soul-soaring double-play. The risk of being injured by Sluggerrr’s hotdog toss, on the other hand, is not an unavoidable part of watching the Royals play baseball. That risk is no more inherent in watching a game of baseball than it is inherent in watching a rock concert, a monster truck rally, or any other assemblage where free food or T-shirts are tossed into the crowd to increase excitement and boost attendance.
The Court found that the fan, who suffered a detached retina from the soaring sausage, was not foreclosed from recovery by an assumption of risk. T-shirt Cannoners be warned.