Here is a hypothetical: During the Superbowl halftime show this year, Adam Levine, of Maroon 5, caused quite a few fans to lose their balance when he took off his shirt.
If during the course of a swoon a Levine fan fell and was injured, could they have sued the NFL? Was Adam’s Bare Body an Optical Shock Trap?
Here is this week’s case: Enter – Ajanaffy.
Ajanaffy was with her husband at Grand Central Station. They were on their way to catch a train. They went down the crowded stairway together but when Ajanaffy turned around her husband was not there. Ajanaffy tried to go back up the staircase when she saw a poster-advertisement of the actor Michael C. Hall, who portrays himself as DEXTER, the main character of a series about a serial killer. The poster shocked Ajanaffy and she lost her balance. She tumbled back down the stairs and injured her ankle and foot. Ajanaffy sued Showtime Networks and the NYC Transit Authority.
At Ajanaffy’s deposition, the lawyer for Showtime asked her these questions; and here is how Ajanaffy answered:
Q: After you turned around, what happened exactly?
A: So when I turned around and started moving up I saw the picture and got scared. It didn't even look like a picture. I thought it was a person.
Q: After you got scared, what happened?
A: I screamed
Q: After you screamed, what happened?
A: I fell. What should I do? When I screamed I fell.
Q: Was there anything on the stairway itself that caused you to fall; a newspaper, a wet substance, something else?
A: It was clean. There was nothing on the steps.
Q: Ma'am, are you claiming that your fall was caused by the scary picture?
Q: What portion of the face [depicted in the photograph under the stairs] did you see immediately before your fall?
A: The eyes.
Q: What is about the photograph that scared you.
A: The photograph itself scared me.
Q: Something about the photograph, its characteristics that scared you?
A: The eyes.
Q: What characteristics from those eyes scared you and caused your fall?
A: Something scary. It is just scary.
Q: After you saw it, you testified that you fell; do you recall what portion of your body impacted the ground first?
A: I cannot recall which part of my body fell first. All I remember is that I fell. My feet started hurting.
Q: Ma'am, aside from the scary eyes, did you see any portion of the face before you fell?
A: Yes, the face. When I saw the eyes and got scared, I had my eyes wide open. And I saw the face. That was before I fell.
Q: My question is, ma'am: As you sit here today, do you claim that the sole reason for your fall was the scary eyes and face?
Showtime and Transit immediately filed a motion to dismiss. At oral argument, the judge asked Ajanaffy’s lawyer if there ever has been a case such as this one brought before. The lawyer responded, "No." The lawyer then tried to convince the judge that the DEXTER Advertisement under the subject stairs "induced a violent, disturbing and shocking reaction to commuters and pedestrians thereto as they traversed up and down the stairs" in Grand Central Station. The judge was not convinced. The judge stated that an action arising solely out of the placement of an advertisement is not a valid claim in New York.
Ajanaffy’s claim was dismissed. And that is exactly what would happen to an Adam Levine fan who sued the NFL because they fell when he bared his breast.
Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2019/2019_29031.htm