Yankees fan caught sleeping on TV broadcast sues ESPN, MLB for defamation

UPDATE TUESDAY 11:20 A.M.

ESPN has issued a statement in response to Rector’s lawsuit: “The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast.  The claims presented here are wholly without merit.”

ORIGINAL POST

Yankees fan Andrew Rector fell asleep in his second-row seat during an April 13 game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. What followed is now a matter for the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the Bronx.

The Smoking Gun has the details:

A fan who was shown sleeping during an ESPN broadcast of a recent New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game is suing the TV network and two of its announcers for allegedly disparaging him during the telecast, according to a lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages.

Andrew Rector, 26, nodded off during the fourth inning of an April 13 contest at Yankee Stadium, and was shown on TV with his head slumped to the side as he snoozed in his second-row seat in the ballpark’s lower level.

ESPN announcer Dan Shulman referred to the sleeping fan as “oblivious,” while John Kruk, the network’s color commentator, noted that the ballpark was “not the place you come to sleep.” Shulman also wondered whether the fan had slept through a third inning home run by Yankee Carlos Beltran (which, Shulman said, prompted the crowd of 45,000 to “stand up and cheer”).

In his complaint, which was filed this month in State Supreme Court in the Bronx, Rector contends that he was subjected to an “unending verbal crusade” by the ESPN announcers. The comments caused Rector, seen at right, emotional distress, according to the July 3 lawsuit.

Rector is also suing the Yankees and Major League Baseball, the latter because it used the clip of Rector sleeping on that night’s highlight package at MLB.com, where readers posted comments that allegedly were disparaging toward him.

The clip is still readily available on YouTube. You can read his lawsuit here.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.
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