On July 17, 2010, Suzanne Peirce was attending her sister’s wedding at the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort in Philadelphia, PA. On that date, Peirce was lounging on a chair near the hotel’s pool. Also at the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort’s pool on July 17, 2010 was the Philadelphia Phillies’ large, furry, green mascot which reportedly hails from the Galapagos Islands, Phanatic. Phanatic was providing entertainment in the hotel’s pool area when he allegedly picked Peirce up out of her chair and threw her into the hotel’s pool.
Nearly two years later, as a result of these alleged actions by Phanatic, Peirce is suing the two men who ordinarily don the Phanatic costume–Tom Burgoyne and Matt Mehler, along with the Phillies organization and the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort. The lawsuit alleges that Peirce has suffered “severe and permanent injuries” to various parts of her body which include a herniated L5-S1 disc, severe aches, pains, mental anxiety and anguish. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Peirce has expended “large sums of money for medicine and medical attention,” “has been prevented from her usual and daily activities and duties,” and has “suffered pain, mental anguish and humiliation and loss of life’s pleasures.”
Peirce’s lawsuit alleges three counts. The first is for negligence against the Phillies, Burgoyne and Mehler. In this count, Peirce lists various allegations which constituted negligence on the part of the defendants. These allegations include that the defendants failed to “consider the risks inherent in throwing a patron into a pool” and failed to “warn the plaintiff that [Phanatic] was about to throw her into the pool.” The lawsuit also alleges a cause of action for negligence against the Golden Inn Hotel and Resort (which is operated by Avalon Golden Inn, Inc.) for amongst other things, “failure to properly monitor and supervise the activities of the Phillie Phanatic” and “Permitting dangerous activities to be conducted on its premises by the Phillie Phanatic.” In both of the negligence counts, Peirce is seeking damages.
Additionally, the third cause of action is against the Phillies, Burgoyne and Mehler and seeks punitive damages for their engagement in “intentional, wilful outrageous, reckless and wanton conduct.” Peirce alleges that by throwing her into the pool, Phanatic “engaged in a course of assault, battery, physical molestation, physical harassment and/or unlawful and offensive touching of a third-party without the right, privilege or consent to do so.”
Overall, it will be interesting to see how the Phillies organization responds to this lawsuit. Likely, the best defense would be arguing that Phanatic did not throw Peirce into the pool, or that Phanatic had Peirce’s permission to throw her into the pool. However, if neither of those defenses exist, the Phillies may be facing some legal hurdles in this instance. As such, one can expect that this matter will be settled out of court before ever reaching a courtroom.