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A courtside employee at the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls play, is suing the beloved and fuzzy Benny the Bull mascot due to an injury she suffered literally at the costumed hand of Benny the Bull. The lawsuit seeks over $50,000 in damages stemming from an incident that occurred in May 2015.
The employee, Rosa Garcia, was working as a courtside server/waiter when, during a break in the game, Benny the Bull was running down the side of the court when he hurt his ankle. While being helped off the court by another person, and limping, Benny put his hand on Ms. Garcia's shoulder to use her as a support and lift himself up. Ms. Garcia, as a result, suffered a severe enough injury to her shoulder to require medical treatment.
While mascots may be well known by their adoring public for the silly pranks, stunts, dancing, fun costumes, and boisterousness, these can all result in injuries to spectators and others. Due to the role mascots play, and as a result of being employed by a team, it is very likely that any injury a mascot causes to another person while performing their mascot-ing duties will be attributed to the team.
This may not be the case if a mascot is off duty. For example, a few years ago a purported Phillie Phanatic threw a woman sitting in a chair into the shallow end of a pool at a hotel. In that case, the settlement is believed to have come from the hotel rather than the team.
Being a spectator may be exhilarating for those with team pride, but even the most devoted fan does not expect to be injured while watching a sports event (not counting heartbreak). Generally, how the injury occurs will determine whether another party, the venue, a player, the team, or the mascot can be held liable for a spectator's injury.
For example, falling down stairs may not have been caused by anything other than an accident, which wouldn't give rise to an injury claim. However, if the stairs were wet, icey, or in an unsafe condition, then liability can potentially be found against the venue on a premises liability claim.
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