The Nevada Supreme Court has reversed a Clark County judge’s decision to award $6.6 million to a man who suffered a knee injury during a Monday Night Football event at The Palms Casino Resort.
District Judge Jessie Walsh should have heard testimony from a crowd control expert about the risks of tossing souvenirs at spectators inside the Palms sports book, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday, sending the case back to District Court and ordering that a different judge preside over the case.
Enrique Rodriguez was standing at the Palms sports book on Nov. 22, 2004, when female Palms employees dressed as cheerleaders tossed water bottles into the crowd. Another patron dove for one of the bottles and hit Rodriguez in the knee.
The expert suggested that the Palms activity was “commonly engaged in and safe” and “that Rodriguez’s injury was not foreseeable.”
The casino could still be responsible for the injuries, but the court wrote in a 14-page decision that “such evidence could reasonably have shifted the District Court’s verdict in the Palms favor.”
Chief Justice Kristina Pickering, who heard the case with Justices James Hardesty and Michael Cherry, wrote the decision.
Walsh also heard some evidence from Rodriguez’s doctors that should have been excluded in the lawsuit, the panel ruled.
That constituted “an abuse of the District Court’s discretion.”
The Palms had asked the high court to toss out the judgment in arguments late last year because of the way the injury occurred.
Lawyers for the casino argued that tossing T-shirts and novelties into crowds at sporting events and shows had become common and posed no danger to the spectators.
Robert Eisenberg, who argued the Palms case before the Supreme Court, said he was “delighted” by Thursday’s ruling, but he declined to comment further.
Rodriguez’s lawyer had argued that two Palms managers even questioned whether the promotion would be safe.
Michael Wall could not be reached for comment after the decision.
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