U.S. News

07.08.14

Sleeping Yankees Fan Files Worst Lawsuit Ever

Caught napping during a game against the Red Sox, one disgruntled fan is trying to turn his embarrassment into a fortune.

Andrew Rector must like to be embarrassed.

After being caught sleeping on national television during a Yankees game, Rector faced some ribbing, particularly on Internet comment boards. But that wasn’t enough, so the Yankees fan filed suit against the New York Yankees, ESPN, Major League Baseball and two announcers broadcasting the game in a court filing riddled with typos and grammatical errors.

Rector was attending a Sunday night game between the Yankees and Red Sox when he dozed off. A cameraman noticed him as he napped in his box seat, and ESPN’s two broadcasters calling the game, play-by-play man Dan Shulman and analyst John Kruk, both joked about Rector.

Their comments were benign. Kruk noted that the man sitting next to the dozing fan may be a friend who prefers Rector asleep while they both pondered whether the somnolent spectator had slept through a home run just a half inning before.  

Apparently, that provoked $10 million worth of mental anguish and harm to Rector’s reputation. But, just to be safe, Rector and his lawyer, Valentine A. Okwara, also alleged that the ESPN announcers “unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff.”

According to the filing, these included phrases such as “stupor, fatty, unintelligent [and] stupid,” none of which were actually mentioned on air. Instead, these come from random Internet commenter. In fact, the suit tries to somehow find MLB liable for a still picture of Rector posted on a website called NotSportcenter.

In the age of YouTube celebrity, if he presses his luck and plays all his cards right, he could even end up on a fifth-rate reality show.

There is the inclination to respond this complaint on legal grounds. After all, by attending the game Rector granted the Yankees, MLB and their respective agents and licensees "the unrestricted right" to use his "voice, image or likeness…in any footage, photograph, poster, advertisement or recording of the game."

One can also point out that two announcers never actually defamed him in their comments (or even came close to it), that Shulman and Kruk said nothing that would cause a reasonable person emotional distress, and that you can’t sue websites for Internet comments left by third parties.

But all that would mean taking this complaint seriously. After all, it has so many spelling and grammatical errors, one gets the sense that the lawyer who filed it is even less familiar with the English language than he is with American law.

Instead, this lawsuit comes across as a desperate cry of attention by a poor schlub trying to extend his 15 minutes of fame. He’ll get his name in the New York tabloids and the opportunity to acquire some small measure of fame. In the age of YouTube celebrity, if he presses his luck and plays all his cards right, he could even end up on a fifth-rate reality show.

The one thing he won’t get, however, is even a single cent in damages from his totally frivolous lawsuit.