Marlins fans know they’re in for a certain amount of pain at the ballpark. The team’s atrocious baseball on the field and brain-punishingly dumb decisions off it have been brutalizing spectators for years.
But Beth Fedornak got more hurt than she bargained for on a trip to Marlins Park. The diehard Fish fan from west Florida says she ended up with a laundry list of “serious personal injuries” courtesy of Bob the Shark, a costumed mascot who pretended to eat her head. Now she’s filed a lawsuit against the team.
“I’ve heard of other cases where mascots have shot things into the stands and injured spectators’ eyes, and there is a certain inherent risk of going to games, but this is a different situation,” says Carl Reynolds, a Bradenton attorney representing her. “This is a case where a mascot hopped up to a person in the stands and... there was a battery.”
Fedornak’s close encounter with a fake shark occurred in 2013 during a home game against the San Diego Padres. She’s a longtime fan of the team, “to the point of attending Spring Training games and everything,” Fedornak says, and that night, she enjoyed a fine Marlins performance. By the sixth inning, Miami was up 6-1.
Then came the fateful sea-creature race. Every sixth-inning break at Marlins Park, four absurdly tall foam mascots — Bob the Shark, Spike the Sea Dragon, Julio the Octopus, and Angel the Stone Crab — race by foot around the outfield. From her prime seats three rows from the field, Fedornak cheered on the race.
Then, as the weary mascots trudged off the field, Bob the Shark leaned into the stands and suddenly pretended to chomp on Fedornak’s head. The bite may have been fake, but the attack was real, she says.
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She “felt immediate pain in her neck after the impact of the shark head down on the top of her skull,” the lawsuit claims. She quickly notified Marlins staff but says her injuries proved long-lasting and expensive. Two years later, she claims, she hasn’t been able to work, and medical bills have piled up.
Last month, she filed suit in Miami-Dade civil court, claiming negligence and battery. “They need to just do the right thing and accept responsibility for a fan interaction that just got a little bit out of control,” Reynolds says.
A Marlins spokesman didn’t respond to a New Times message seeking comment on the suit.