Elsewhere in dollar-sign-headlines in Thursday’s New York Post, Nicholas Malossi was ejected from a September 22 Yankees game when a player’s wife complained to security of being harassed. He and his friend, with their lawyer, David Brickman, are suing the Yankees, the security company for the Yankees, and the city for $6 million. A city lawyer called the suit frivolous. (Carl Campanile, “Fans $lug Yanks”, New York Post, Nov. 25). “In the coming weeks, Brickman is also expecting to file another lawsuit against the Yankees that involves a 14-year-old Clifton Park resident who was physically denied a ‘beanie buddy’ promotional gift at the stadium turnstile because he was thought to be too old.” (Robert Cristo, “Local fans drop Bronx bombshell”, Troy Record, Nov. 26).
Fark would mark this entry with an “Obvious”: Fans at the now-infamous Detroit-Indiana basketball game Friday night have started filing lawsuits. According to the Detroit Free Press, video shows season ticket holder William Paulson dousing Indiana Pacer Ron Artest with a drink after Artest charged the stands and pummeled an innocent bystander, but he’s suing three players, the Pacers, and the arena over a concussion he allegedly suffered in the brawl. John Ackerman also claims to have suffered a concussion; he’s told different reporters that he was hit by a chair and hit by Jermaine O’Neal. The lawyer is your friend and mine, Geoffrey Fieger (Aug. 31 and links therein). (Ben Schmitt and Frank Witsil, “Victims? Suspect? Prosecutor identifies fan who started brawl”, Detroit Free Press, Nov. 23; Mike Martindale, “Find chair-tosser, get cash”, Detroit News, Nov. 24; Daniel Howes, “Lawsuits over Palace fight show a culture of litigation”, Detroit News, Nov. 24; Bisi Onile-Ere, “Lawsuits come in Palace brawl”, ABC-12, Nov. 23).
Kobe Bryant’s accuser filed rape charges against him in Colorado, where the incident took place, and has also sued him in federal court in that state. But her lawyer says she may go to California, where Bryant resides, to file a civil suit against the basketball star. “The 20-year-old woman would not be bound in California by the limitations on financial damages that might apply to court in Colorado, attorney Lin Wood said. ‘In the final analysis, we’ll make the decision whether to go to California or not based on whether it’s in the best interests of this young lady,’ Wood said. ‘We’re going to focus our efforts on maximizing the potential recovery from Kobe Bryant.'” The criminal case against Bryant was dismissed Sept. 1 and cannot be filed again. (Steve Lipsher, “Lawyer: Calif. suit eyed to escape damage caps, Denver Post, Nov. 7).
Not quite cricket: “Australian batsmen have been banned from hitting balls for six by local councils because of fears that their boundary-clearing shots might injure passers-by and prompt compensation claims.” (Anna Gizowska, Daily Telegraph (UK), Oct. 31).
Independent team doctors getting scarcer: “The rising cost of medical malpractice insurance, and the proliferation of sponsorship arrangements between teams and large medical groups, have changed the landscape for team physicians in recent years — particularly at the major pro level, but also reaching down to college and high school sports. As part of the sponsorship deals, health care groups provide the team physicians, who have come to realize they need the umbrella of a large health care system to provide malpractice insurance. The combination of the rising cost of malpractice insurance in states such as Pennsylvania that don’t have tort reform and the potential for large judgments going to high-paid athletes has increased the risk for team doctors and made it nearly impossible for independent doctors to work in the field. … Although malpractice lawsuits filed by athletes against team physicians aren’t common, there have been several multimillion-dollar judgments and settlements, and that’s enough to cause a lot of concern.” (Shelly Anderson, “Is there a doctor in the clubhouse?”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 10). For more, see Apr. 7-8, 2003, Jun. 13, 2002 and Dec. 7, 2000.
A pepper-ball injury to the eye is a very, very unlikely way to die, but those who know most about what happened to Victoria Snelgrove on Oct. 21 aren’t talking. CodeBlueBlog thinks some combination of fear of tort liability and HIPAA, the federal medical privacy law, explains much of authorities’ reticence (Oct. 30, Oct. 28).
“Social and club golfers should ensure they are covered by insurance before they even think about teeing off, the Victorian Golf Association has warned.” Mark Roy Shanahan was held personally liable for an A$2.6 million award after a charity game 10 years ago at a Queensland country club when his ball hit another golfer in the head. Although club members are often covered by a club’s liability policy, green-fee golfers may be exposed and would be wise to seek alternate sources of insurance, said VGA executive director Doug Fox (Daniella Miletic, “Insurance can stop a poor shot landing in court”, Melbourne Age, Sept. 12).
“The San Francisco Giants fan who caught Barry Bonds’ 700th homer is being sued by another man who says he was the rightful owner of the prized ball, which he maintains was stolen from him during a mad scramble. According to a restraining order to be filed in state court Tuesday, Timothy Murphy said Steve Williams stole the historic blast from him during a melee in the left-center field bleachers at SBC Park on Sept. 17.” (David Kravets, “Man who caught Bonds’ 700th homer ball sued”, AP/FoxSports.com, Sept. 28) “In October 2001, Bonds’ record-setting 73rd homer of the season sparked litigation that ended when a judge ordered both men to split the $450,000 the ball fetched.” Lawyers’ fees were reported to have eaten up most of the proceeds in that case: see Jul. 1, 2003.
It isn’t just the fox-hunt ban: “According to the British Horse Society, dozens of pony trekking centres and riding schools are being forced to close because of spiralling insurance costs and customer claims. Some riding schools have seen insurance costs increase five-fold in the past five years.” (Richard Alleyne, “Injury claim culture ‘is killing off our riding schools'”, Daily Telegraph, Jul. 14). “Children’s charities have been forced to cancel activities and shut down centres because of a big rise in insurance premiums as a result of the fear of parents making compensation claims for trivial incidents,” reports the Daily Telegraph; the prospect of U.S.-style litigiousness spreading to Britain is widely blamed (David Bamber, “School trips and charities hit by soaring insurance costs”, Daily Telegraph, Aug. 29). A sanitized childhood without cuts and scrapes is too dire to contemplate, thinks Quentin Letts (“A child has a right to dirt and bruises”, Daily Telegraph, Aug. 22). David Davis, shadow Home Secretary, sounded the alarm last month in the Spectator (“Victim nation”, Aug. 28). And insurance broker AON has published a report on the problem entitled “Blame, Claim and Gain” (PDF). For more, see many entries on our U.K. page. P.S. More from the Telegraph, from May (Joshua Rozenberg, “Is there a compensation culture?”, May 20). And from September (Liz Lightfoot, “Adventure pursuits ‘too risky for schools'”, Sept. 28).