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Sleeping Yankees ‘Fan’ Files Frivolous Lawsuit

Sleeping Yankees Fan

A Yankee fan who was caught on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball sleeping in the middle of a Yankees-Red Sox game is suing ESPN, Major League Baseball, and the New York Yankees:

A fan caught on camera sleeping during a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game in April has filed a defamation lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the Yankees, ESPN and the game’s two announcers (John Kruk and Dan Shulman),according to The Courthouse News Service.

Andrew Robert Rector, in a lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court, lays out why he felt he was defamed after images of him nodding off at Yankee Stadium on April 13 were broadcast.

“In the course of watching the game plaintiff napped and this opened unending verbal crusade against the napping plaintiff,” the complaint stated (per The Smoking Gun).

The lawsuit, which Rector apparently drafted on his own without the benefit of legal counsel, alleges claims related to defamation, but if you actually watch the video of what happened, it all just comes across as a little light ribbing:

A video from MLB has slightly different commentary at another point in the game, but, again, nothing that could reasonably be said to be defamatory. Instead, Rector seems to want to hold ESPN responsible for what people were saying about him online:

[Rector] claims that the defendants “negligently or maliciously published false, defamatory statement of fact about the plaintiff, a private individual. The false statements include but are not limited to:

“Plaintiff is unintelligent and stupid individual.

“Plaintiff is not worthy to be fan of the New York Yankee

“Plaintiff is a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represent symbol of failure.

“Plaintiff is a confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual.

“Plaintiff is confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee.

“Plaintiff is so stupid that he cannot differentiate between his house and public place by snoozing throughout the fourth inning of the Yankee game.”

As noted, Rector is suing Major League Baseball and the Yankees as well even though it isn’t at all clear how they can possibly be held responsible for any of this under a coherent legal theory. Given all of that, it really seems as though this is a completely frivolous lawsuit that is likely to subject Rector to even more derision than his brief time on camera. In fact, I was watching the game that night and I can’t say I have any memory at all of the sleeping guy.

Outside of the legal issues I have two other observations. Given where Rector was sitting, err sleeping, he was paying a heck of a lot of money for a nap. Some seats that close to the field start reaching close to $1,000 per game. Second, anyone who is sleeping through a Yankees-Red Sox game where the score is 2-1 doesn’t strike me as much of a Yankees fan, or a Red Sox fan for that matter.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Suppose instead of basing the suit on defamation, he was basing it on violation of his personality rights. Would that suit be more likely to suceed?

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  2. It may make the standard of proof lower, but it still doesn’t answer the liability issues. When you buy a ticket to a baseball game you’re agreeing that your image may be caught on camera and used either in the stadium or via broadcast. Its part of what’s on the back of every ticket.

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  3. @Doug Mataconis:

    There’s a distinction between incidentally appearing on camera during the filming of the game and being made a specific focus of the broadcast, particularly one they return to later to discus further. Given that the ticket boilerplate would almost certainly be considered a contract of adhesion, I’m not sure being repeatedly mocked on national TV passes the “reasonable expectations” test.

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  4. @Stormy Dragon:

    Perhaps, but the fact that the alleged defamatory comments were not even made by people affiliated with the Defendants seems pertinent.

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  5. mantis says:

    Clearly George Costanza missed a legal opportunity when he was caught pigging out on ice cream at that tennis match.

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  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Plus, he’s going to have to show damages. Getting your feelings hurt because someone said nasty stuff about you on a blog somewhere….uh, no.

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  7. @grumpy realist:

    He probably can’t get damages, but he could ask for injunctive relief requiring them to stop making the clip available.

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  8. Midwestern Dad says:

    The truth is a legal defense to slander or liable (if I remember correctly).

    I find it irritating when somebody pays a lot of money for a ticket to a football game; drinks heavily in the parking lot; shows up late and leaves early; and sleeps thru significant portions of a game. Is it legal; yes. Is it irritating and obnoxious; yes. I think that’s what the announcers were getting at.

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  9. Franklin says:

    Rector? I nearly killed ‘er.

    /got nothin’
    //please don’t sue me

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  10. al-Ameda says:

    it’s only the FOURTH inning of a Red Sox-Yankees game and he’s already asleep?
    Can you say, “alcohol”?

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  11. James Joyner says:

    While I agree that he has no legal claim here and that the suit is therefore frivolous—and that he’s a whiny baby and should just get over it—I do wonder how we’ve gotten to the point where non-public figures are fair game for commentary by broadcasters on national television networks or announcers for multi-billion dollar businesses. So some schmo paid his money—or got a free ticket to—a ballgame, got a little overserved, and fell asleep. Why does that merit mocking on national television? If it’s one of the coaches or a starting pitcher on his off day, it’s funny and comes with the territory. Ditto if it’s Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian. But some random fan?

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  12. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: How expensive were the tickets for that part of the stadium again?

    That’s what probably provoked at least some of the attention. Why go ahead and splurge $1000 on an event if you’re going to sleep through it?

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: He’s only going to be able to do that as long as he hasn’t already waived his rights by whatever gobbledygook is on the back of the ticket in 2-point font.

    Adhesion contracts, bitches!

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @grumpy realist: But so what? Why is that anyone’s business? Of any public interest whatsoever?

    For that matter, everyone around him looks rather ordinary. There’s no indication that’s some sort of elite conclave. It’s not like it’s a skybox or something.

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  15. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: The guy probably got noticed because sleeping through a sports match isn’t normal behavior.

    Now, if it had been a Wagner opera…..

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