Burnie, the Miami Heat's anthropomorphic flame mascot, may be one of the most enduringly popular parts of the franchise, but one local elementary school teacher is taking the team to court and claiming that Burnie injured her during an event. That teacher, Susan Sanchez, claims she volunteered to participate in a dance routine at a pep rally at an elementary school, but when her moves weren't up to Burnie's par, the flame ball got a little handsy and ended up injuring the educator.
According to the lawsuit obtained by Courthouse News, the Heat threw a pep rally for students at the Caribbean Elementary School down in South Miami-Dade back in April 2013. Naturally, Burnie was on hand to entertain the mostly pint-sized crowd.
The mascot got teachers to volunteer for a dance routine. Despite having had surgery in 2008 that resulted in screws and plates in her back, Sanchez decided she was up for what she thought would be a low-impact routine. However, Burnie allegedly decided to make Sanchez feel the burn.
"Suddenly and without warning and without verbal or written consent, Burnie touched Plaintiff and attempted to lift her leg past 90 degrees, and push out her right leg in an effort to have her do a split," reads the suit.
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Sanchez claims she suffered a labral tear of her left hip, and continues to suffer pain from the injury. She is no longer listed on Caribbean Elementary's staff list.
Sanchez and her husband are now suing the Heat organization for negligence, battery, and loss of consortium and are seeking unspecified damages. The man behind the Burnie costume on that particular day is not named in the suit. The Heat have not commented on the lawsuit.
While seeing mascots themselves getting hurt (or at least pretending to get hurt) is a time honored tradition in sports, stories of mascots injuring fans are rare but not unheard of. The Kansas City Royals were sued in 2013 after their mascot injured a spectator by throwing a hotdog into the stands.