Aug 21, 2012, 8:54 AM EST
Apparently this happened last month, but I missed it. There’s a new article up about it now, though, and it reminds us of the world in which we live these days:
In July, Yankee Stadium became the first sports facility to earn the coveted federal “Safety Act” designation. That means the facility has passed a battery of tests and won approval from the Department of Homeland Security, so the Yankees have been granted a wide-ranging immunity from future lawsuits that might stem from terrorist attacks.
I’m not terribly familiar with this designation, but I came across it (or something like it) back in the legal days in the form of products liability protection for companies that make certain anti-terrorism technologies or take certain anti-terrorism measures.
The idea is that we don’t want to punish people for being unsuccessful in combating terrorism and creating a situation in which someone is better off not even trying to do something safe (when they can claim the terrorism was totally unforeseen) than it is to try to combat it and come up short. In the stadium context, it allows the Yankees to do, well, whatever the Yankees may try to do security-wise, without later having someone say that they did it in a substandard manner and filing suit.
I get it and understand the incentives in play. And God knows that people will come out of the woodwork to sue if something were to happen. But like any other sort of lawsuit immunity, it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, it may grant the Yankees greater latitude to do the right thing, but it will also incentivize them (and enable them) to make it way harder for people to sue them for legitimate things. “Oh, our beer vendor hit you over the head with his tray? Sorry, but that’s terrorism!”
Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but anyone who has ever been involved in the lawsuit biz knows that crazier things happen all the time and that there’s very little downside to asserting silly defenses like that. Because hey, they may work, and even if they don’t, they delay things.
(thanks to reader Johanna S. for the heads up)
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