Lawsuit Against Phillies’ Mascot

The Philadelphia Phillies mascot is the defendant in a lawsuit stemming from a fan’s injuries at a minor league baseball game. Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges that the “Phillie Phanatic” climbed on top of her during a game in 2008 which causing Plaintiff arthritis to get worse which, Plaintiff believes, caused her to need a knee replacement.

Exacerbation of prior arthritis claims are incredibly tough because it so hard for the doctors to really state strong opinions as to whether a trauma accident caused her injuries to worsen. I also imagine there are liability problems. In these kinds of cases, I always fear the lawsuit is filed in part because it is a case against the Philly Phanatic and that sounds a little interesting, so let’s bring a case we otherwise would not. Again, I have no facts to support this, but it makes you wonder when you hear cases with these kinds of facts.

Lawsuits Against the Philadelphia Phillies

For a major sports franchise, the Phillies have not seen many lawsuits.  Here are a few that were filed after this claim involving the Phillies’ mascot.:

  • In 2011, the Phillies were sued by a fan who was hit in the face by a foul ball during a game. The lawsuit alleged that the Phillies were negligent for not providing enough protection for fans in the stands. The case was settled out of court.
  • In 2012, the Phillies were sued by a former employee who claimed that the team had fired her because of her age and gender. The case was settled out of court.
  • In 2015, the Phillies were sued by a fan who claimed that he had been injured when a t-shirt cannon fired into the stands. The case was settled out of court.
  • In 2018, the Phillies were sued by a fan who claimed that he had been injured when a hot dog fired from a cannon hit him in the face. The case was settled out of court.
  • In 2019, the Phillies sued Erickson and Harrison in a federal court in New York in an attempt to retain ownership of their mascot.  Erickson and Harrison had been hired to design the original Phanatic costume back in the late-1970s. The case was settled out-of-court in 2021 and the Phillie Phanatic is back.
  • In 2020, the Phillies were sued by a group of ticket holders who claimed that the team had breached its contract by refusing to refund their money for games that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reported Opinions Involving the Phillies

  • In the 1979 case of Bayless v. Philadelphia National League Baseball Club, plaintiff Patrick B. Bayless brought a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Phillies for injuries he sustained while employed as a pitcher in the Phillies minor league farm system. Bayless claimed that his mental illness was caused by drugs administered to him as medical treatment while he was in the employ of the defendant, who allegedly failed to provide proper medical care. The defendant argued that Bayless’ exclusive remedy was the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Act, which provides coverage for injuries resulting from accidents occurring in the course of employment. The court found that Bayless had placed himself within the ambit of the Workmen’s Compensation Act and therefore his claims were barred by the exclusive remedy provision.
  • In 2019 case of Williams v. MLB Network,  former Phillies Mitch Williams had a contract with MLB Network containing a “morals clause” that allowed them to terminate the relationship if Williams engaged in certain conduct. After Williams was accused of inappropriate behavior at a youth baseball tournament, the network suspended him and proposed a contract amendment for his return. Williams sought legal advice and his attorney sent a letter asserting that Williams had not engaged in any conduct that violated the agreement. The network fired Williams and he sued.  Following a 11-day trial where twelve witnesses testified, including former MLB player Bill Ripken, the jury concluded that Williams did not violate the morals clause of his contract concerning incidents that took place at a youth baseball tournament in 2014. He was awarded Williams $1,565,333.34 in stipulated compensatory damages. The verdict was sustained on appeal. (The Phillies were not a party to the litigation.)
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