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Monday, April 14, 2008
Trespassing to Lay a Curse

An amusing story from the new Yankee stadium, where construction crews jackhammered through concrete to retrieve a David Ortiz Red Sox jersey buried there in an effort to hex the bronx bombers by Red Sox fan (and one-day stadium construction worker) Gino Castignoli.

Not amused (it seems), the Yankees will apparently seek criminal charges against Castignoli, presumably for some sort of building code violation or criminal trespass. Unfortunately for Castignoli, I think there's also an open and shut case against him for trespass to land: Any person who commits an act of entry with intent to the land of another without permission is liable to the other for trespass. Leaving a thing on land without permission can constitute the "act of entry" needed for the trespass claim. And trespass, like other intentional torts, doesn't have much of a sense of humor -- as long as there was intent, that the effort may have been a good-natured practical joke would not provide a defense.

Recoverable damages? It would seem like the Yankees could recover the expense associated with removing the jersey. Castignoli has argued that no structural damage was done, but I don't think a landowner is limited recovering removal costs / remediation expenses to situations where the removal or remediation is a structural necessity.

Would this construction worker have to pay punitive damages as well? Yankees president Randy Levine described Castignoli as someone who "had really bad motives and was trying to do a really bad thing" and the act as "a very, very bad act." Most Red Sox fans likely have actual malice when it comes to the Yankees, or at least did until the past few years, no? Does that kind of malice suffice for the "aggravation" needed to state a claim for punitive relief?

Of course, Castignoli could presumably request return of the jersey (although the Yankees intend to donate it to charity), and sell it on ebay to pay for his legal fees and damages. And maybe Red Sox nation will be kind enough to start a legal defense fund.


From the prosecutor's standpoint - can you really waste the taxpayer's money pursuing this case? Although, the initial reaction from a NYC-taxpayer (presumably a large portion of which are Yankee fans) may be yes, when you step back and consider the bigger picture, that’s really a waste.
From the Yankees perspective (marketing/business), I’m not sure what the best business decision is (in a civil trespass case for damages). On the one hand, I’m not sure how much fans would appreciate it – we’re just happy the jersey was dug up. Besides, the people who would really support the suit are probably diehard Yankee fans already. On the other hand (going back to comments between the Hank/John Henry this summer), this has become a Red Sox country. It seems like the Yankees represent modern-day republicans and the fans that have started to like the Red Sox are democrats. So, in going after this person for a prank (although, one that I, as a Yankee fan, do not find funny), you risk further perpetuating a stereotype of what the Yankees represent. It seems like young people in the US are becoming more and more democratic – so the Yankees need to watch how others perceive them – as it may affect their business in the future.
I know it took something like 5 hours to locate it, but I don’t think that would be the goal/point of any suit. I’m a stubborn/principle driven person and I love to get the Red Sox – but I just don’t even think this one is worth it when you consider the marketing costs to the Yankees.

Anonymous George -- 4/14/2008 4:31 PM  

I am sure David Ortiz, he of the 3 for 43 batting average, was thrilled to have his jersey excavated...

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/14/2008 5:30 PM  

If they are serious about litigation, I hope the Yankee brass is smart enough to keep the jersey and preserve the chain of evidence

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/14/2008 8:58 PM  

It is not reasonable to spend all this money to dig up a shirt.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/14/2008 10:31 PM  

If the construction worker asked/demanded the shirt be returned to him, wouldn't the argument be that he abandoned the shirt?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/15/2008 8:11 AM  

I buried 46 Mets jerseys in yankee stadium, you want them? Start digging assholes! xanatos_

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/15/2008 5:37 PM  

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