Strikeout at The Boilerplate: Court Rules For Fan Contesting Fine Print On Baseball Ticket

Within my torts classwe discuss sports torts and defenses. Among these problems is the frequent inclusion of waivers and binding mediation language on the rear of tickets at microscopic type. That issue came up in a intriguing case involving the Chicago Cubs. (For full disclosure, I am a life Cubs fan and personally secured their last World Series win). Last week, a three-justice manager of the Illinois First District Appellate Court in Chicago ruled against MLB and the Cubs in trying to enforce the boilerplate language on mediation published on the rear of baseball tickets.  The Cubs have not been so shocked since Steve Bartman achieved and grappling with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou grabbing the ball with all the Florida Marlins in 2003.

Zuniga was struck in the face with a foul ball at Wrigley in 2018. We’ve discussed such cases and rulings on the standard MLB defenses.  She was eating a sandwich at the time and didn’t find the ball that left her with face fractures (and four days in the hospital).
Zuniga used a paper ticket that her father won in a workplace raffle. Once she sued, MLB and the Cubs argued that she had no lawful right to sue. MLB cited the very small print on the rear of the ticket that states”baseballs might be struck into the stands, so that audiences should stay alert, which the Cubs along with other things wouldn’t be liable for resulting injuries.”
The language also states that any disputes over legal claims against MLB or the Cubs that originate from their attendance at Wrigley Field”will be resolved by binding arbitration… in Chicago, Illinois.”
But, Cook County Circuit Judge Kathy Flanagan dominated Zuniga and maintained that the provisions and conditions included with the ticket have been”unconscionable.”
Now the Appellate court has agreed. But, Smith balked at implementing this provision:

It does not seem the ticket itself or other surrounding conditions were enough to bring this on the plaintiff’s attention. We also wonder how far in advance of attending a match that a person can reasonably be billed with the need to read the terms and conditions to the back of a baseball ticket, and we think MLB along with the Cubs overstate the sensible opportunity a individual must read the complete arbitration provision on a mobile phone once he or she’s inside the commotion of inputting Wrigley Field and recognizes the need to achieve that. Furthermore, given that the Cubs omitted from the ticket some info a individual has the right to opt out of mediation in seven weeks, this could seem to be a short time for a individual with injuries as severe as those endured by the plaintiff to have a meaningful opportunity after the match to understand of this right to opt out of mediation and take the actions necessary to achieve that.

This choice doesn’t deal with the fact that most tickets used today are electronic or electronic — adding further issues of comprehension and notice for fans.  Few men and women think that fans read or understand what functions like an adhesion contract free of input or bargaining electricity from fans. The MLB orders these waivers and onerous mediation conditions to guard itself from lawsuits.
This view could materially alter that unequal bargaining position. But, there is a concern that, despite increased disclosure, enthusiasts will have little input or rights in such disputes. Notably, the court acknowledged that such binding language is enforceable. The only problem was that”variables exist in this case that make the mediation provision difficult or hard to discover or obtain at the time of utilizing the ticket, so such that we cannot fairly say the plaintiff knows what she was consenting.”  Legislatures could alter that unequal bargaining position with good consumer protection provisions on such suits.

Here is the comment: Zuniga v. MLB

Kudos to Olga Jablonski to your prosecution of the case.

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