Jumbotron Defamation? Unlikely.

It’s been a few weeks since a funny defamation lawsuit landed in the ole’ inbox. But thanks to a baseball fan in New York, happy days law laughs are here again!

A Man Fell Asleep At A Baseball Game; Mocked By Anchors…

On April 14, Andrew Robert Recto headed to Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers had a scheduled showdown with long-time rivals, the Red Soxs. During the game, Recto dozed off – and the audience cam caught him snoozing.

Did the game anchors give the slumbering fan a pass? Of course not! This is Yankee Stadium, people!

Upon spotting Recto on the jumbotron, ESPN game anchors Dan Shulman and John Kruk went from play-by-play game commentary, to audition tape for Real Housewives Anchorman of New York.

…So The Mocked Man Filed A Defamation Lawsuit

Since snark is the fuel on which the media now runs, Recto’s roasting went viral. When the sleeping Yankee fan heard the less-than-kind quips, he did what anybody looking to strike the legal lottery would do — he sued.

Recto claimed defamation. He insisted the incident caused him “mental anguish”, not to mention “loss of future income” and “earning capacity”. ESPN New York, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the Yankees were all named defendants.

Does The Jumbotron Man Have A Legitimate Defamation Case?

In a statement, a spokesperson for ESPN said the defamation claim was “wholly without merit.”

And ESPN is almost certainly correct.

It’s never wise to predict the outcome of a case with 100% certainty, but if this one makes it to trial, a whole lot of legal watchers’ jaws will drop. Here’s why:

  1. A statement isn’t defamatory if it’s just an opinion. Legally speaking, defamation is a negligent false statement of fact, not an unflattering opinion.
  2. In order to emerge victorious in a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered a material loss as a result of the statement(s) under review.
  3. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted, at the very least, negligently.

The argument could be made that Shulman and Kruk were negligent in their assumptions about Recto, but it’s unlikely that Recto suffered any real harm as a result of the incident? Moreover, while arguably immature, the ESPN spokes boys didn’t make any false statements of fact about Recto.

Is a defamation situation cramping your style? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law, today. We are a top-rated, well-respected law firm that focuses on all things defamation – for both individuals and businesses. Reach out today to begin the conversation. The quicker you handle the matter, the better life will be.


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