Andrew Robert Rector, the Yankees fan that fell asleep at a Red Sox rivalry game on April 13, 2014, is suing the New York Yankees, Major League Baseball, ESPN and the games announcers, John Kruk and Dan Shulman, for defamation. Rector is suing for $10 million for defamation and intentional emotional distress. Rector is being represented by Valentine Okwara of Jamaica N.Y.
The Smoking Gun has released court documents in the case the display what Rector feels are his key legal issue with the defendants in the case. In the documents, Rector claims, announcers John Kruk and Dan Shulman “unleashed avalanche of disparaging words against the person of and concerning the plaintiff. From paragraph 10 of the complaint:
“10. ESPN Cameras focused on the plaintiff, Announcers like Dan Shulman and John Kruk 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, including people that know the plaintiff in person or interacted with the plaintiff”
In the complaint sections 11 and 12, Rector moved his suit to Major League Baseball and MLB.com for their continued defaming words.
“11. 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”
“12. 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”
According the court documents, Rector appears concerned that John Kruk and the rest of the nation now feel that he is not a true loyal Yankee fan. Why would I say that? See section 14 of the document.
“14. John Kruk 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 Yankees.”
I remember the incident and honestly I remember chuckling at the comments. However I do not remember the words in this complaint being issued on air. I could be wrong but go ahead and check for yourselves. There was a bit more to the broadcast but you get the general tone of the comments from Shulman and Kruk.
Video Courtesy of MLB
This lawsuit is just ridiculous. There are no other words to describe it. For a minute, let us forget the massive number of typos within the complaint. If you would like to read the whole complaint it is available on The Smoking Gun. The construct of the complaint is so poor that the grammar alone is laughable.
Laughable can also be used to describe the suit as a whole. I understand we currently live in a country that breeds lawsuits from every corner or fast food drive-thru but somewhere individuals just need to stop. Is bullying real? Yes, of course it is. But before everyone jumps on the “bullying bandwagon” let’s not go too far too fast. I understand the clinical definitions of both “bully” and “bullying” and to me what was witnessed that night does not meet the criteria. Of course, that is not for me to decide. We all have opinions on the levels of perceived undo stress that might have been caused by the incident in question.
This lawsuit is all about two things in my opinion. First, this is the traditional money grab. Rector knows how much money the Yankees, MLB and ESPN have. I am sure he was hoping for a settlement below the $10 million he is attempting to acquire. He was embarrassed and feels he can use that to make some coin. There is a difference between falling asleep, having it mentioned on TV with a couple of comments from announcers in jest and emotional distress. But then again, the court will decide what level of stress is acceptable in this instance. For me this suit is laughable. For Rector, it has clearly caused harm to the level he cannot recover.
I have a… suggestion to resolve this horrific incident. If Mr. Rector feels undo harm and distress from the incident, instead of suing for $10 million have the defendants pay for a stint in rehabilitation to help him work through these issues that pain him greatly. It would be sad if he continued to have to live with the emotional strain created from the incident. Let’s get the man the help he needs to turn this horrible incident around.
Secondly, this lawsuit is about not being a Yankee fan. He feels like he has been portrayed as not loyal to the Bronx Bombers. I also have no doubt that every one of his buddies gave it to him because of the situation. He wants to go on record that he is a Yankee fan. Taking this to court, in his mind, will vindicate him with all his family, friends and the world. I cannot believe it has come to this.
It will be interesting to see how the court handles this case. More to follow as it unfolds.