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Phillie Phanatic sued by woman tossed in pool (she wasn't amused)

June 12, 2012|By David Zucchino
  • The Phillie Phanatic entertains students at McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary School during its visit to the school in McAdoo, Pa. A woman is a now suing at least two men who have worn the outfit for the mascot's behavior at a hotel.
The Phillie Phanatic entertains students at McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary… (Ellen F. O'Connell / Associated…)

The perp was tall, green and furry, with blue eyebrows, a massive green proboscis and a tongue longer than an anteater’s.

He allegedly committed an assault upon an unsuspecting poolside lounge chair that contained one Suzanne M. Peirce, described in a Philadelphia court document as "an adult individual.’’

Both chair and adult individual allegedly were tossed into a hotel pool by the big green perp. The individual emerged wet. And angry. She sued.

And the perp, described in a lawsuit filed Monday as "a servant, agent and employee of the Philadelphia Phillies,’’ is remaining silent. The Phillie Phanatic never speaks.

But civil suit 120601293 in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas says plenty.

It says, in fact, that on July 17, 2010, at the Golden Inn Hotel & Resort in Avalon, N.J., the Phanatic was doing what he is paid to do, i.e., "entertaining resort guests at the hotel pool by engaging in various antics.’’

It should be pointed out here that the Phanatic's antics at his primary workplace, Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park, include, but are not limited to:

— Hugging other men's wives and girlfriends.

— Emptying fans’ popcorn boxes over his huge green head.

— Dancing in a lewd fashion with strange women.

— Pretending to kick umpires in their posteriors.

— Polishing the bare domes of innocent bald men.

— Ogling scantily clad women.

Now, back to the lawsuit’s dramatic poolside narrative:

"During his comic routine, the Phillie Phanatic approached plaintiff, picked up her chair and threw plaintiff and her chair into the pool.’’

In lawyerly tones of outrage and disbelief, the narrative picks up speed: 

"Plaintiff suffered severe and permanent injuries to her head, neck, back, body, arms and legs, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, nerves and tissues of her head, neck, back, arms and legs, including, but not limited to, a herniated L-5, S-1, aggravation and/or exacerbation of all known and unknown pre-existing medical conditions, internal injuries of an unknown nature..."

And so on.

Plus, the prerequisite "mental anxiety and anguish, the full extent of which is not yet known.’’

And finally, "humiliation and loss of life’s pleasures,’’ which presumably will no longer include festive occasions involving the Phanatic and chlorinated water.  (Plaintiff was at the hotel for a wedding.)

The Phanatic was negligent, the lawsuit says, for "failing to consider the risks inherent in throwing a patron into a pool.’’ Worse, it says, he failed "to give the plaintiff the option of not engaging in such an activity.’’

Still worse: He led "plaintiff to believe that he would not throw her into the pool ... thereby causing her to lower her guard.’’

No monetary damages were specified, though the lawsuit did mention "large sums of money for medicine and medical attention.’’

Nor did the lawsuit specify a single defendant. It is impossible to determine just who is inside the Phanatic’s multi-layered costume, especially when he’s lifting heavy items poolside.

The lawsuit narrowed the defendants down to two possible Phanatics: Tom Burgoyne or Matt Mehler. Or "any other unknown or unnamed individual [playing] the role of `Phillie Phanatic.’ ’’ And, of course, the offending employer, the Phillies.

A Phillies spokeswoman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the team does not believe the Phanatic, or whoever was inside the costume, engaged in wrongful conduct.

The Phanatic is not unfamiliar with civil suits. He’s been sued at least three times over the past decade, according to the Philadelphia Daily News — once for hugging someone too hard and once for plopping on a woman’s lap, aggravating her arthritis.

Is the Phanatic worried?

He was spotted at a Phillies game with the Dodgers last Thursday. He looked normal. He was dancing, thrusting his hips, mugging and gyrating with an adult individual named Paula Abdul.

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david.zucchino@latimes.com

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