The Mets have another heavy lawsuit on their hands

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It was nearly four years ago when I first heard the name Ellen Massey. She’s the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Mets that, while not as sexy as the Madoff stuff, has its own special appeal: On Opening Day, 2007, Massey was fallen on by a 300-pound man who came hurtling out of his seat in her direction, breaking her vertebrae. Massey says the fat guy was drunk and that the Mets are liable because they continued to serve him despite his obvious intoxication.

My take when I first heard about this case — a mere month after I began blogging back at Shysterball — was that Massey had a theoretically a valid claim: ballpark serves an obviously intoxicated man who later causes injury. The problem, though, was that it would be really hard to actually marshal any evidence.  The falling fat guy’s identity was unknown at the time and it wasn’t at all clear how he could be discovered. And it would likely be difficult to prove that he was intoxicated given that he left the park and there was no police report or anything.  I figured it was deadsville.

Yet, despite all of my skepticism, the case is going to trial, reports the New York Post.  Over the past four years Ms. Massey has learned the fat guy’s identity — Timothy Cassidy — and got the depositions of multiple witnesses speaking to his behavior prior to the incident. That’s enough to get her past the summary judgment stage and now she gets to take the Mets to trial.

If I represented the Mets, I’d rather be handling that case than the Madoff case. I always enjoyed the stuff with actual humanity much better than document-intensive financial cases. And there isn’t much more humanity than a 300 pound drunk guy falling on people in Shea Stadium on Opening Day.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.