Major League Baseball’s efforts to end a lawsuit filed by a woman struck by a foul ball at Wrigley Field hit a snag when an Illinois appellate court ruled recently that the injured fan can move ahead with her lawsuit. In its ruling affirming the decision of the trial court, the First District appellate court held that the plaintiff was not required to arbitrate her case with the MLB per the terms of the arbitration agreement printed on the back of her ticket.
The case stems from events that took place during the Chicago Cubs’ August 27, 2018 home game, where the plaintiff, Laiah Zuniga, was hit in the face by a foul ball while at the game played at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs home ballpark. Zuniga received her ticket on the day of the incident from her father who won it in a raffle at his workplace. The paper ticket would be familiar to anyone who has attended sporting or entertainment events. The front of the ticket included artwork depicting one of the Cubs players; information about the opponent, the date and time of the game, the seat location, and ticket price; a barcode; and small print that stated, “Event date/time subject to change. No refund. No exchange. Subject to terms/conditions set forth on the reverse side.”
A large portion of the back of the ticket was taken up by an advertisement. Next to the advertisement were six paragraphs of fine print. The first paragraph provided that by using the ticket, the individual “agrees to the terms and conditions available at www.cubs.com/ticketback (the ‘Agreement’), also available at the Chicago Cubs administrative office. Key terms of the Agreement are summarized below (the Agreement controls in the event of any conflict).” The third paragraph included a sentence in all capital letters stating that baseballs might be hit into the stands, that spectators should stay alert, and that the Cubs and other entities would not be liable for resulting injuries.
Important to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the fifth paragraph of text stated, in regular type, “Any dispute/controversy/claim arising out of/relating to this license/these terms shall be resolved by binding arbitration, solely on an individual basis, in Chicago, Illinois.” Zuniga attested in an affidavit that she never read the fine print or visited the URL printed on the back of the ticket where the terms and conditions supposedly accompanying her ticket could be viewed. Had she done so, she would have found a much longer and more detailed arbitration agreement, which the Court reproduced verbatim and which spanned more than 3.5 pages of the Court’s opinion. Continue reading ›