If Kermit the Frog and Big Bird had a child, what would it look like? Why, the Phillie Phanatic of course. But if those icons of kindness (the frog and bird) were really his parents, they would no doubt teach the Phanatic some care and gentle manners. That way, perhaps he could stop getting sued all the time. The big, green "ungainly" mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies has been sued so many times the Philadelphia Daily News now calls him the "big green litigation machine." Here is just the latest.
According to the Daily News, plaintiff Grace Crass, of Wernersville, Pa. was at a minor league game with her church group when, surely without provocation, the Phanatic climbed through the stands and onto her, causing her asymptomatic arthritis to explode with a vengeance. Ms. Crass's attorney, John Speicher, says she may eventually need knee replacements. Ms. Crass is seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.
You may ask, is it a giant green furry phan’s responsibility to pay for knee replacements, after just climbing on the plaintiff? Should Phillie fan Grace Crass decide to sue not just for negligence, but for an intentional tort such as battery (harmful or offensive touching of one person by another), the short answer is, probably.
If Ms. Crass can show the Phanatic intended to make contact with her that he knew would be harmful (i.e., he is huge, she is a 75 year-old woman) she could be considered an “eggshell plaintiff.” This term is used to describe an especially fragile plaintiff that the defendant may not have known was particularly sensitive. However, intentional tort law generally requires a defendant to take the plaintiff as he found her. That is, if you are found to be liable for purposely climbing all over a little old lady with bad knees, you will be required to pay damages on those bad knees.
As noted, this is not the Phanatic’s first time at this particular rodeo. In fact, the Daily News reports that in an article published in the May 2002 Cardozo Law Review, Bob Jarvis, professor of sports law at Nova Southeastern University, said that the Phanatic holds the “dubious record as the most-sued mascot in the majors.” Why is this the case? Some put it down the the protuberant mascot outfit. Others to the crazy behavior required of something called a “phanatic.”
One thing is certain, unless the Phillies can keep winning and keep increasing the team bank accounts, the Phanatic may cost them more in legal fees than they would like to pay.
Maybe they ought to send him down to the minors for a “rest.”