There is one man in the New York area who may still be hoping that exhaustion at a baseball game will translate into a huge payday at the hands of our legal system. When the television cameras panned Yankees Stadium during the fourth inning of a game against the Red Sox on April 13, 2014, Andrew Rector was spotted taking a nap. The broadcasters, John Kruk and Dan Shulman, found this fascinating and proceeded to spend some time discussing how Rector could sleep in such an environment (“Yankees Fan Caught Sleeping Sues ESPN for $10 Million, New York Post, July 7, 2014).
Rector did not appreciate his moment of television fame and filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against ESPN, Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and the individual broadcasters. He is claiming that he suffered mental anguish, injury to his character, loss of income, and loss of future earning capacity (“Sleeping Yankees Fan Sues ESPN, MLB for $10 Million, CBS New York, July 8, 2014).
He also included in his complaint the accusation that the broadcast included words like “stupid” and “fatty,” claims that do not correlate with the footage that is available. It did not take long for sports commentators and others in the media to offer sharp criticism of Rector’s lawsuit as being frivolous or even harmful. The argument was made that audience members at a sporting event enter the stadium with the understanding that they will be televised and that Rector was only drawing more attention to a moment that he claims to have found embarrassing.
Austin-based attorney Tony R. Bertolino, managing attorney of Bertolino LLP, was asked to weigh in with his thoughts on the claim, as his firm specializes in personal injury issues.