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Monday, July 16, 2007
Should Baseball Stadiums Stop Selling Beer to "Large" People?

A gruesome story from Yankee Stadium likely to lead to a lawsuit. Paul Robinson, visiting the Big Apple from Washington state, was enjoying a game last week when a large unidentified fan sitting a few rows behind him fell onto his head, snapping Robinson's neck:
"It felt like my head had been ripped off," Robinson told the Daily News from his hospital bed. . . . The man who fell was dragged away by his friends and never bothered to apologize or check how badly Robinson was hurt. The family believes he was drunk.

"I found it odd that they didn't even ask if Paul was OK," Robinson's wife, Kathy, told the Daily News. "It's very steep up there, but if it was an innocent trip, they would ask if Paul was OK."
The AP notes the incident is similar to one at Shea stadium last spring, in which "a 58-year-old woman suffered a broken back when a very large drunk crashed into her during a fall."

Obviously, the torts teacher in me asks, "Are the Yankees / Mets liable"? This is more than an academic question, since the Mets fan has filed suit against the stadium and beer vendor and it would be quite un-American for Mr. Robinson not to do so.

While stadium-goers are typically barred from recovering for injuries due to batted balls (see Greg's post here), that's because batted balls are considered an "inherent" part of the game. While some level of rowdiness and contact are to be expected when attending a game, the risk that a "large drunk fan" will fall onto one's neck is hardly integral to the game of baseball. New York also has a "dram shop" law, which provides
Any person who shall be injured in person, property, means of support, or otherwise by any intoxicated person, or by reason of the intoxication of any person, whether resulting in his death or not, shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by unlawful selling to or unlawfully assisting in procuring liquor for such intoxicated person, have caused or contributed to such intoxication.
Assuming the large fans at issue were served after reaching the point of intoxication (something that could probably be demonstrated by witness testimony or video evidence), the stadium and beer vendors seem clearly on the hook. Might this be a case where size matters, in the sense that an intoxicated person of substantial proportions poses a greater risk of causing serious harm to other fans?


Right. Then the next question would be "Should baseball stadiums stop selling hot dogs to fat people?" People should be responsible for their own actions. I think the injured guy should be suing the fat guy.

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/16/2007 7:19 PM  

If a stadium stopped selling beer to large people, you can be sure that advocacy groups for "people of size" would be filing discrimination lawsuits.

Anonymous Peter -- 7/16/2007 10:29 PM  

To Tom: I don't understand your reasoning behind that being the supposed 'next question.' Isn't the whole issue at hand with this particular incident his level of inebriation as opposed to his size? Maybe I'm just hazy on the whole deal but I feel like a 150 pound drunk falling on my head is going to do just as much damage as a fat drunk; isn't it just superfluous at a certain point?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/16/2007 11:06 PM  

The next questions that I can think of are "At what weight is a customer to large to qualify for the privelidge of buying a beer" abd "How does the vendor make certain whether or not the customer exceeds that weight" and "Do the same rules apply to someone who is 6'5 225 as to someone who is 5'8 225, and, if they do will there be a height at which it will be almost impossible to qualify to buy beer" and "What does the vending company and the stadium and the team have to do to certify that the customer does not exceed the wieght limit".
But then, I am not a lawyer-I am sure a real lawyer could think of some more questions.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 7/17/2007 3:03 AM  

anonymous #1:

My reasoning is based on the question. The question (which originally had the word "fat" instead of "large" in the it) itself puts the person's size as the determining factor for whether that particular person should be served beer by the stadium or not. I could understand your confusion for my comment a lot better if the question was, "Should baseball stadiums stop selling beer?" This question fits your viewpoint on the matter, and would exclude everyone, and so we're back to my point. Why should overweight people be the only target, and why shouldn't people be responsible for their own actions? And...what would be next if the answer to that question is yes? Denying the overweight access to hot dogs? Peanuts? What else are they going to have to be excluded from just because they're fat?

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 8:38 AM  

Wow, do I need more caffeine this morning.

(which originally had the word "fat" instead of "large" in it)

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 8:43 AM  

perhaps it has nothing to do with the guy being fat. Maybe a skinny person falling on a 58-year-old woman would have broken her neck as well...

Blogger Aaron -- 7/17/2007 9:43 AM  

I agree it doesn't really have to do anything with the person's size. I also contend that you cannot prevent stupidity and clumsiness, whether you stop selling beer at the stadium or not.

This one person made the idiotic choice to drink too much and injured somebody as a result. Why punish everybody else as a result of this one person's stupidity by banning beer sales to the overweight, or everyone? What are you going to ban when somebody injures someone else out of pure clumsiness and/or stupidity, without alcohol being involved?

Once again, I say it's about personal responsibility. The one person in this case who is responsible for making idiotic choices which resulted in someone getting hurt should be held accountable for his actions liable for the injury.

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 10:25 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 10:28 AM  

OK, I still need more caffeine...and LOTS of it!! :)

"...should be held accountable for his actions and liable for the injury."

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 10:29 AM  

while I agree that personal responsibility is very important, that is not the only issue here. As Anon 11:06 stated, the issue here should be the level of intoxication (yes I know the original post posed the question of selling beer to "fat" people, but as many other posters have already picked up on, a size limit is simply not feasable.)

What I would like to point out here is that there already are rules/laws against overserving people. If overserving was a factor in the incident, then a lawsuit against the stadium is proper.

Blogger Jimmy H -- 7/17/2007 4:11 PM  

jimmy h:

Yes, you're absolutely right. I understand that the person's weight or personal responsibility is not the only factor here. Perhaps I haven't made that clear enough. I agree that the stadium has a liability for overserving someone, and through that they have some factor of responsibility for the injury. However, it appears from the post that the person who actually fell and caused the injury isn't being held liable at all. What about him? I'm wondering if they weren't able to get any I.D. from the person before his buddies dragged him off, and that's why he's not being charged...?

As you noted, my original point really pertains to the question posed in the title of the post. Further, I don't think banning beer in general would prevent people from being...well, stupid. :)

Blogger Tom Blogical -- 7/17/2007 11:44 PM  

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