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A Dog in the Eye May Cost Us All

Jamie Squires, Getty Images

So there you are, sitting at beautiful Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, watching a Royals baseball game, when all of a sudden you get hit in the eye with, not a ball, but of all things, a hot dog. That’s right, a hot dog, which was tossed at you by “Slugger,” the bigger than life mascot of the Royals.  

Between certain innings “Slugger” tosses out hot dogs to the fans watching the game. The fans usually go crazy trying to catch the “flying dog” during this event designed to entertain the masses. Baseball at times can be a very slow game and keeping the fans interested between innings is of paramount importance, so tossing hot dogs is one way to keep their interest.

Unfortunately, some two years ago, this one hot dog made its way to the eye of John Coomer of Overland Park, Kansas. He is now filing a law suit against the Kansas City Royals claiming that he has had to have two different eye surgeries, one to repair a detached retina and the other to remove a cataract (or was that mustard) that has forced him to need an artificial lens. He apparently has spent nearly $4800 in medical costs and his suit is seeking $20-thousand from the team (the equivalent of 4000 five dollar hot dogs).

A Jackson County Jury heard the case two years ago and ruled in favor of the Royals, claiming that Coomer should have been aware of what was happening around him in the stadium. An Appeals Court overturned that decision and, believe it or not, the case went to the Missouri State Supreme Court who heard oral arguments in September but has not issued a ruling yet.

Just think of the possibilities if Coomer wins this case. All high school, college and professional team events may be forced to abandon the tossing of items into stands for fear of a similar incident and a lawsuit that would follow.

Selling tickets to see a game isn’t enough anymore. Teams are trying to convince fans to come out and enjoy the whole experience of being there instead of staying home and watching it on TV. It is unfortunate that the simple act of tossing a free hot dog into a crowd may lead to a less than enjoyable day at the ballpark or football stadium in the future.

We can all hope those Supreme Court Justices are hot dog lovers.

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