In a lawsuit filed this week, a baseball fan alleges that a t-shirt cannon used by the mascot of the Houston Astros broke her finger, causing her to have multiple surgeries.
KHOU reports that Jennifer Harughty was at a Houston Astros baseball game with her sons, husband and father in July 2018 when Orbit, the mascot, fired a t-shirt into the crowd with what the lawsuit calls a “bazooka style t-shirt cannon.” Harughty alleges she was hit by an incoming t-shirt on her left index finger, and that the blow delivered so much force that it fractured the finger.
Initially, Harughty thought the injury was no big deal, telling KHOU, “We were thinking, ‘Oh, okay, it’s broke but no big deal. It’s a finger. We’ll put a cast on it. Four weeks, you’ll be fine.’ ”
However, Harughty was told by doctors at the emergency room that she would need surgery to repair the damage. She ultimately had two operations.
Just spoke with the woman who filed a suit against the @astros after trying for nearly a yr to get help w/ bills for multiple surgeries to her left index finger. She was sitting in the lowest level when she says a T-shirt shot by a Gatling gun hit & shattered her finger. #khou11 pic.twitter.com/XIqtgy12eY— Melissa Correa (@KHOUmelissa) April 9, 2019
The suit alleges that in allowing Orbit to use the t-shirt cannon, the Astros were negligent — first by failing to warn fans of the risks related to the cannon, and second by failing to use reasonable care when firing it. Additionally, the suit claims Astros staff were not properly trained in the cannon’s use.
The Astros on Tuesday released a statement, saying that they “do not agree with the allegations” the suit makes.
Harughty seeks more than $1 million in the suit.
Generally speaking, the so-called "baseball rule" has been used in court to protect stadium owners and operators and teams from liability — suggesting that by purchasing a ticket, fans assume some risks associated with being inside a stadium. However, recently, courts have begun to chip away at that rule. What will ultimately happen with Harughty's case remains to be seen.