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By Zach Arnold | April 19, 2015
The California State Athletic Commission has officially opened the door for lawsuits due to the negligent behavior of regulators at the StubHub Center boxing event this past Saturday night.
Saturday night’s Showtime fight got ugly in a hurry when Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. got his ass kicked. For as much of a liability as Chavez was in the ring, it was what happened outside of the ring in response to Chavez’s performance that should scare the hell out of Sacramento.
Chavez Jr.-Fonfara with the wild finish! Beer cans and glass bottles wildly thrown at the ring. Fans getting hit in the head and shit.
— Cynthia Vance (@cynthiavance) April 19, 2015
Key phrase: glass bottles.
At various shows across the state of California regulated by the Athletic Commission, athletic inspectors routinely allow venues & promoters to serve plastic or glass containers for beverages. Allowing glass or plastic bottles for selling beverages, rather than paper cups, is a blatant violation of California’s Code of Regulations, section 253:
§ 253. Drinks.
Clubs shall be responsible to see that all drinks are dispensed in paper cups.
There’s a reason this rule is on the books — negligence.
So why do regulators not enforce the rule against venues & promoters?
Part of it has to do with laziness. Part of it has to do with refusing to bite the hand that feeds you financially. In turn, the regulators are playing Russian Roulette and hoping that nobody gets injured due to the state’s negligent behavior.
Saturday night’s televised fight at StubHub Center involving fans throwing glass bottles is a tort lawyer’s early Christmas present. Any person who was injured by the projectiles being thrown from the spectators could sue to the California State Athletic Commission for negligence in order to pay any medical bills.
Under the old legal principle of sovereign immunity, you couldn’t sue state or Federal agencies in the past. That has changed over time, both with the Federal Tort Claims Act and in California with the Government Claims Act. The Government Claims Act gives individuals a narrow window on certain things you can sue the state of California for. In order to sue the state of California, you have to embark on the policies & procedures laid out in the Administrative Law playbook.
In California, you have to file a claim (demand letter) with a state agency within six months of the alleged legal wrong-doing. That agency then has 45 days to respond with either a) a settlement offer, b) a rejection, or c) no response (which serves as a default rejection). The state agency has five days after the initial 45 day response period to communicate a response to an aggrieved party. If the response isn’t satisfactory, then an attorney has a green light to sue.
The California Government Claims Act specifies that you cannot sue a state agency based on omission of the law or for administrative discretion. However, if an act or acts of omission or discretion directly lead to negligence that results in harm against an individual, you can file a claim.
Saturday’s night incident at StubHub Center with unruly fans throwing glass bottles is a personal injury lawyer’s dream because the lawyer could easily sue the Athletic Commission without having to do any heavy lifting.
- The ugly scene was televised and there’s likely video evidence from fans & TV cameramen of spectators hurling projectiles.
- Numerous spectators, including members of the media, who could provide eyewitness testimony.
- The athletic inspectors routinely ignore the Paper Cup rule on the books.
- The Athletic Commission would have little or no defense to any sort of administrative claims because they can’t dispute the facts in question. It’s direct evidence of negligence occurring at events regulated by the Athletic Commission.
As long as the Athletic Commission continues to allow promoters and venues to serve beverages in plastic or glass containers, a hungry personal injury attorney looking for some work will be able to take advantage of the situation by recruiting clients. Easy pickings.