Andrew Rector filed the defamation lawsuit after the sports network showed him hunched over and seemingly fast asleep at an April 13 baseball game
A New York Yankees fan caught sleeping at a ballgame filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against ESPN and the network's announcers, according to a report by the LA Times.
Cable viewers watching the April 13 contest between the Yankees and their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox, were treated to unexpected bonus footage of attendee Andrew Rector napping in the stands. Home viewers might've chuckled at the site of a fan sleeping through an important divisional game, but Rector says his life was negatively impacted by the coverage — so he filed suit against ESPN, MLB Advanced Media, and on-air commentators John Kruk and Dan Shulman.
“In the course of watching the game, plaintiff napped and this opened an unending verbal cascade against the napping plaintiff,” read the recently filed legal document.
The complaint also alleges ESPN hosts added malicious voice-over commentary. The lawsuit claims Rector was called words like “‘stupor, fatty, unintelligent, stupid’ knowing and intending the same to be heard and listened to by millions of people all over the world, including people who know the plaintiff or interacted with the plaintiff in person.”
The Worldwide Leader in Sports, however, begs to differ. ”The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit,” ESPN said in a statement to TheWrap.
A clip circulating the internet from that day's telecast doesn't include that language, but it does show both ESPN commentators making light of Rector's mid-game nap.
“It's not the place to come to sleep,” said Kruk. “I'll tell you what, though, how comfortable is that? He probably won't have any neck problems tomorrow.”
“I mean, is that guy to his left his buddy, who's just letting him sleep,” responded Shulman. “Or is he here alone? What's the deal with this guy?”
“Maybe he's his buddy and he just likes him a lot better when he's asleep,” added Kruk, laughing.