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ESPN blows off the lawsuit from the sleeping Yankees fan

Jul 8, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

lawsuit gavel

Yesterday we told you about the lawsuit filed by the Yankees fan who was caught snoozing during an April Yankees-Red Sox game. A little while ago, ESPN released as statement about it:

“The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast.  The claims presented here are wholly without merit.”

I didn’t watch the game at the time and haven’t seen video of it circulating since — yesterday only still pics of the guy sleeping were floating around — but dude: if no one from ESPN actually said the stuff you said they said in your complaint you’re gonna get your butt handed to you by an angry judge.

But really, even if ESPN is somehow mistaken here and there are some rude comments by their announcers about this guy, who cares? Last I checked, stating the bleeding obvious about a person, however rude it might be, is not actionable.

UPDATE: OK, here’s the video. It’s only 1:14 and it’s possible Kruk and Shulman went back to him later, but they said absolutely nothing anywhere close to over-the-line. The guy seems pretty delusional.

  1. IN FIRST AT LAST - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Doesn’t it say on the back of your ticket that you agree to be on TV, etc etc?

    • 78mu - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      I think it says if you fall asleep you can be mocked by anyone and you will have no recourse since there is no lawyer in the world that would be dumb enough to take your case.

      Of course MLB had no idea that Valentine Okwara, of Jamaica, N.Y. was a lawyer since he is representing Andrew Rector. And by filing the suit more people will mock and deride Rector because now we know his name. Aren’t lawyers supposed to tell their clients it’s not a good idea to empty that can of gasoline on a fire?

      I wonder if Okwara was smart enough to get paid up front or if he is delusional enough to take this case on contingency?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Okwara might be good, but he’s no Jackie Chiles.

  2. tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I posted the video in the other thread, Craig.

    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      Here it is.

  3. Bryz - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    The lawsuit is a sham. The quotes attributed to Shulman and Kruk were never said, plus the entire thing is laced with typos. If you read it, you’d laugh it off too.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      (a) I agree the lawsuit is preposterous. Okay. Keep that in mind as you read the next part.

      (b) It is NOT ridiculous to hold a publisher — in this case, ESPN and MLB — responsible for the things they publish. This site is a notable exception, but Internet comments are by and large a cesspool. We all know this. It’s a sneak-peak into what Klan meetings must sound like. Publishers ought to monitor what it appearing on their site. They are the ones who choose to publish comments. So if ESPN loses because they are found responsible for defamatory materials published in their website, I’d support that.

      The case at the heart of libel law — with respect to public figures — was about a classified advertisement published in a newspaper. (New York Times v. Sullivan.) There’s no question that publishers are responsible for what they publish. Comments are part of it.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        Dude, if you had worked Anthony Cumia into that, you’d have blown up HBT.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Speaking of that guy, these tweets might be the best thing I saw on the internets this week:

      • umrguy42 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        If I’m not mistaken, though, something like section 230 of the communications decency act (I think, I know it’s section 230), I believe holds site owners *not* liable for remarks made by internet commenters.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        Well that’s BS. They passed a law, they can pass a different law.

        There’s a good reason libel is illegal.

      • umrguy42 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        I believe the *commenters* can be held liable. The webhost can’t, is what I’m saying. (In general.)

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        I’m suing my high school because my buddy Brian wrote “I signed your crack” in my year book, and that is offensive.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        Oh, go back to lying about Theo Epstein. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and you’re not trying to understand what I’m talking about, either.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        Well now I’m suing NBC.

      • drewy44 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        It is ridiculous to hold the publisher responsible for comments made anonymously, even if you oversee them, on the internet. This was just decided in Cincinnati in the Ben-Gal cheerleader lawsuit against

      • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        It’s not ridiculous.

        – They can choose to have the comments be non-anonymous.
        – They can choose not to have a comments section at all.
        – They could choose to delete offensive comments that were brought to their attention.
        – They can choose to block access to people who regularly post offensive comments.

        Instead, most publishers opt to allow their comments section to thrive as a cesspool of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. You may choose to ignore the comments — I certainly do on all sites except this one — but you cannot deny that they provide little value except as a platform for idiots.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        None of those things you listed are actionable.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        If you truly believe that, you should try suing NBC for comments made on PFT.

      • shyts7 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        This might be one of the most idiotic comments in the history of Hardball Talk.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      I literally had no idea, before clicking that link, that the Sporting News still existed.

  4. natstowngreg - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    But this is America, land of the lawyer and home of the lawsuit. Doesn’t the Constitution say, “Congress shall make no law preventing any citizen from suing, without regard to reason?” Or something like that?

    Wouldn’t mind being in court when the judge conducts the butt-handing. It should be entertaining.

  5. O.Handwasher - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    The thing that kills me is that if he’d been cool with it, he could’ve gotten an actual *good* fifteen minutes out of it instead of being seen as a complete asshat.

    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:23 PM

      He’s just mad because this, coupled with Bridgegate, are really going to affect his presidential run in 2016.

    • gostlcards5 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      I can’t see the thumbs up/down, but you’d definitely get an “up” from me. The guy is definitely elite asshat material.

    • spursareold - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      He could have blown up Twitter by saying that he fell asleep and dreamed that ESPN was still a top Sports network.

  6. jarathen - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Maybe he just dreamt it all.

  7. historiophiliac - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    This is such BS! ESPN did an extensive online poll of narcoleptics around the country and they were totally NOT offended by this. This county is becoming a nation of narcissistic loosers who need to MAN UP!!!!! If you are embarrassed, DON’T NAP IN PUBLIC!!!!! There’s no right to privacy here and the government has NO business interfering with a PRIVATE EMPLOYER exercising FREE SPEECH because some sue-happy jerk is a freaking baby!!!! He should be embarrassed by the suit, not the comments! Wuss. America is dying. HUCKABEE 2016!


    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      As someone who is between 1/4th and 1/3rd (depending on the day) narcoleptic, I can say I’m not offended by this.

  8. indaburg - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    The chicken fingers look delicious. That is all.

  9. ezthinking - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Filing a frivolous lawsuit such as this can result is being charged with barratry in many states.

    The attorney that filed this crap could face fines and suspensions and the like from the practice of law.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Problem is the fellow’s legal advisor is John Boehner.

  10. stex52 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    He was probably hoping they would look at court costs and publicity and just let him (and his contingency legal counsel) walk with a check for -say – $25,000 in their pockets. They split and walk away smiling.

    Oh well, what’s Plan B?

    • historiophiliac - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      I don’t know, but I know you can’t get it at Hobby Lobby.

      • stex52 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Har har. Quick shift in the political winds.

      • nukeladouche - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Best comment of the day. Bravo, historio. . . .

  11. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    This is a guy who’s probably betting that ESPN will settle rather than spend the money fighting this ridiculous lawsuit in court. He’s wrong. The biggest issue I have with this entire thing is the lawyer who’s actually advising this clown to fight this battle.

    • stex52 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      Lawyers do it on contingency. He may have actually advised the guy this was a dumb idea. But he might want to be standing there in case lightning strikes.

      • gostlcards5 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Or perhaps he’s going to collude with the defense attorney, a la “From the Hip”. That’s the only way he’d have a shot to win the unwinnable case.

  12. largebill - Jul 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    This guy and his lawyer (especially his lawyer) should be beaten senseless.

    Stink’n lawyers are ruining this country. Irons now come with warnings not to use on clothes while wearing them because scum bag lawyers try to turn everything into a lottery ticket.

    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      How are warnings on irons ruining the country?

      Actually, how are they affecting you in any way really?

      • tigersfandan - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        The warnings represent the dumbing down of this country. Seriously, if I drive my car into a wall, should I sue the car manufacturer because the user’s manual didn’t warn me against driving my car into a wall?

      • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 5:04 PM


        But if the maker of your car decides to put that in the manual just to cover themselves who cares?

    • seattlej - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      Didn’t John Smoltz do that?

      • seattlej - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Answered my own question…

        So I’m guessing that Braves fans generally support such warnings.

    • lanflfan - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Did a lawyer drop you on your head as a child? Or steal your lollipop?

    • American of African Descent - Jul 8, 2014 at 9:51 PM

      The best warning label I ever saw was on a tube of hemorrhoid cream, and it said “do not take this orally.” Because you know someone wrote in and said “Dear hemorrhoid cream company. I ate this whole dang tube and I still got those hemorrhoids. But man, my mouth’s so small I can’t even eat a jellybean. But I can whistle really good!”

  13. twinfan24 - Jul 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    He looks like the kind of loser that would file a frivolous lawsuit. That said, any loss to his perceived value can’t be more than about $28, so just give him that much and tell him to go back to his mother’s basement.

  14. uwsptke - Jul 8, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    This guy acts like Kruk walked down to his seat, pulled out a Sharpie and proceeded to draw a wiener on his face with the words “INSERT HERE” inscribed on his chin.

    • tfbuckfutter - Jul 8, 2014 at 7:36 PM

      To be fair, you could allege that in a lawsuit and even Kruk would have to say to his lawyer “I’m not really sure I didn’t do that.”

    • shyts7 - Jul 9, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Damn sounds like I know a lot of people who should get sued because of what they did to the 1st person to pass out back in college.

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