On the 24th of October 2016, a thirty-six years old Denver Bronco fan named Jason Coy fell from a railing during a game at the Mile-High Sports Authority Field. The sixty feet fall caused numerous fractures and blunt traumas to the skull, head and neck among other parts of his body, ultimately resulting in his death the next day. Jason Coy was sitting on the railing when he tumbled over to the fire escape after losing his balance. He is survived by his wife and five children, the oldest is eleven years old and the youngest is just six months old.
A year after his death, Coy’s widow has filed a lawsuit against the stadium, the sports authority and a half dozen others for causing the death by negligence. Among the defendants are the Metropolitan Football Stadium District and sports & stadiums management company Bowlen Sports Inc. Coy’s family is being represented by James Bramer. The lawsuit states that the fire escape at the stadium is not safe as it lacks uniform steps and railings, thus posing unreasonable risk to patrons. The lawsuit primarily seeks compensation for lost wages of Jason Coy but also to compensate for the pain & suffering of the immediate kin. Officials of the stadium district have not commented on the case, nor has Broncos.
Fans getting injured at sporting events and in stadiums is not uncommon, albeit not all injuries prove to be fatal. Not too long ago, a fan was severely injured at Fenway Park. Baseball fans have had accidents across the country. Fourteen-year-old Alan Fish died after being hit by a ball struck by Manny Mota of L.A. Dodgers at their home stadium. Susan Rhodes had a broken jaw after being struck in the face by debris of a maple bat at the same Dodger Stadium. She sued Rawlings, the bat maker, and the stadium. Thirty-nine-year-old Wendy Whitehead was hit by a foul ball at a 2010 San Angelo Colts game. She was hit in the temple and died the following day. Thirty-nine-year-old Shannon Stone died at a Texas Rangers game in 2011. More recently, a Chicago Cubs fan was seriously injured after Addison Russell lost the grip of his bat and it went flying into the stands.
It is not just baseball or football. Hockey and racing fans are also often injured during the game. Thirteen-year-old Brittanie Cecil died in 2002 after being hit by a puck in the head at a game between Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets. The league added netting at the two ends of the ice for additional protection after this tragic incident. Fans of many teams have been struck by pucks and these have resulted in many lawsuits over the years. The safety net has also proven to be ineffective at times. Patrician Higgins was hit in her face during the final game of the 2013 Stanley Cup. She too had filed a lawsuit later.
Jason Coy’s case is different from injuries caused by sporting mishaps. It has more to do with the infrastructural setup than untoward consequences of the game. We will have to wait for the verdict of the district court in Denver.