Retrial Ordered on Bar Injury by Souvenir Toss
(CN) - A Las Vegas casino should not pay millions to the football fan who was hurt by a fellow patron diving for a thrown souvenir, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled.
At an airing of "Monday Night Football" at the Sportsbook bar in The Palms casino, actress Brandy Beavers and two other women dressed as cheerleaders threw sports souvenirs to the patrons.
Claiming that he sustained a knee injury when another patron ran into him while diving for a souvenir, Enrique Rodriguez sued The Palms.
Though a Clark County district judge awarded Rodriguez $6,051,589 in damages,
The Nevada Supreme Court overturned on June 5 after finding that it had been wrong to strike testimony from the casino's experts on security and crowd control.
Though the trial judge said these experts did not "opine that their opinions were given to a reasonable degree of professional probability," the Supreme Court said otherwise.
In testifying that throwing items to a crowd was commonplace and safe, the Palms' expert Forrest Franklin "offered a definitive opinion based on research and expertise, not speculation," according to the ruling.
"So exclusion of his testimony was an abuse of discretion," Justice Kristina Pickering wrote for the court.
It was also an abuse of discretion to let Rodriguez's doctors to testify without disclosing expert witness reports, according to the ruling.
The Palms failed, however, to sway the court regarding the limited-duty doctrine, as applied in the 2008 case Turner v. Manadalay Sports Entertainment.
Rodriguez was not in the same position as a fan hit by a foul ball while watching a baseball game at a ballpark, according to the ruling.
The court also discussed cases that included a bumper-car injury and a man who walked into the fire at a Burning Man ritual.
"But the point of watching a televised sporting event at a sports bar is ... to watch a televised sporting event at a sports bar; having souvenirs tossed in one's direction may or may not enhance the experience depending on one's preference, but as long as the televised event may still be viewed in that venue, the activity retains its character," Pickering wrote.
Rodriguez's case must be retried with a new judge, according to the ruling.
The first judge heard one of Rodriguez's doctors state that he reviewed "thousands of pages" of medical records in forming his opinion, but the doctor only disclosed 21 pages of records in discovery.