Appellate Court Sides With Photographer Suing Chicago Cubs

Appellate Court Sides With Photographer Suing Chicago Cubs

The First District Appellate Court recently ruled against the Chicago Cubs in their bid to move a legal case to arbitration. This decision regards a lawsuit filed by Charles Arbogast, an Associated Press photographer who suffered injuries at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had sought to avoid a jury trial, claiming that Arbogast, by obtaining and utilizing a press pass, had implicitly agreed to forgo his right to a jury trial in favor of arbitration. The lower court rejected this claim, leading to the Cubs' appeal.

During the appeal, the team argued that acceptance of the press pass's terms and conditions, which supposedly included an arbitration clause, was mandatory for access. They claimed that the pass itself notified Arbogast of this agreement.

Contrarily, Arbogast contested that he never personally consented to any such agreement. The application for the press credential was made by a colleague, and Arbogast had not authorized this person to agree to arbitration on his behalf. Moreover, the pass did not explicitly mention arbitration or a waiver of jury trial rights. It simply referred to additional terms on, where the arbitration clause was placed within a lengthy document. As such, the court expressed skepticism that the press pass could reasonably be seen as entering one into a contractual agreement.

Representing Arbogast, attorney Timothy Tomasik emphasized the soundness of the court's ruling in upholding the right to a jury trial. He highlighted that the Cubs failed to provide any concrete evidence of a mutual contract. He further stressed the absence of any signed or explicitly agreed-upon document to validate an arbitration agreement. Tomasik argued that citizens cannot be compelled into arbitration without a clear, voluntary waiver of their right to a jury trial.

The lawsuit arose from a July 2018 incident, when Arbogast fell while photographing a game. Arbogast's suit, originally filed in May 2020, alleged negligence by the organization in allowing pallets to be stacked in the photo well, which photographers used to elevate their perspective. Arbogast tripped over the pile of pallets when moving through the photo well. The suit further alleges that the defendants failed to construct a proper platform for photographers. The fall would cause Arbogast to spend 23 days in the hospital. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

It would be wise to get a photographer to sign a waiver, acknowledging the risk of attending a baseball game. Photographers at baseball, football and basketball games are up close and in harm's way. Watching basketball games has players taking a fall into the lap of photographer. Even though many baseball clubs flash a warning on the screen, it is implied that you know the risks of foul balls, tossted bats, etc. and agree to the terms. BTW, I should have gone to law school.