Snoozing Fan Claims ESPN Defamed Him
BRONX, N.Y. (CN) - A baseball fan who dozed off during a Yankee-Red Sox game sued the Yankees, ESPN and its announcers for defamation, claiming they broadcast photos of him asleep in his chair, calling him "fatty, unintelligent, [and] stupid."
Andrew Robert Rector sued Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN New York, the New York Yankees, and ESPN announcers Dan Shulman and John Kruk, in Bronx County Supreme Court. He demands $10 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Rector claims he was filmed, and defamed, at the April 13 game between the Yankees and Red Sox, at Yankee Stadium.
"In the course of watching the game plaintiff napped and this opened unending verbal crusade against the napping plaintiff," the complaint states.
ESPN focused its cameras on him, Rector says, and then "Announcers like Dan Shulman and John Kruck unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff. These words, include but not limited to 'stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid' knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world ..."
The writing style of the lawsuit is idiosyncratic. Quotations in this article are as in the complaint.
It states: "The defendant Major league Baseball continually repeated these vituperative utterances against the plaintiff on the major league baseball web site the next day. These words and its insinuations presented the plaintiff as symbol of anything but failure.
"The defendant MLB.Com continued the onslaught to a point of comparing the plaintiff to someone of a confused state of mind, disgusted disgruntled and unintelligent and probably intellectually bankrupt individual.
"Nothing triggered all these assertions only that the plaintiff briefly slept off while watching the great game something or circumstance any one can easily found them self.
"John Krock in his verbal attack insinuated that the plaintiff is individual that know neither history nor understood the beauty or rivalry between Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee.
"These unmitigated verbal onslaughts crossed the line between reporting on sport and abuse against the plaintiff without reasonable cause or restraint ..."
Rector claims the commentary and photos showed him in a false light, damaged his reputation, and the fact that he was napping was not an issue of legitimate public concern.
He claims that the defendants "negligently or maliciously published false, defamatory statement of fact about the plaintiff, a private individual. The false statements include but are not limited to:
"Plaintiff is unintelligent and stupid individual.
"Plaintiff is not worthy to be fan of the New York Yankee.
"Plaintiff is a fatty cow that need two seats at all time and represent symbol of failure.
"Plaintiff is a confused disgusted and socially bankrupt individual.
"Plaintiff is confused individual that neither understands nor knows anything about history and the meaning of rivalry between Red Sox and New York Yankee.
"Plaintiff is so stupid that he cannot differentiate between his house and public place by snoozing throughout the fourth inning of the Yankee game."
Rector seeks compensatory and exemplary damages.
He is represented by Valentine Okwara, of Jamaica, N.Y.