A long-time fan of the New York Mets was watching his favorite squad play ball with his three sons back in June when he was blasted in the face by a projectile launched from a pneumatic cannon, rendering him unconscious with a semi-detached retina in his right eye.
Now, Alex Swanson, a 54-year-old resident of Smithtown, Long Island, is suing the Mets for damages and is asking the team to ban the use of T-shirt guns at Citi Field in the future in a lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court Sept. 27.
“This is a very unfortunate situation that could’ve and should’ve been avoided if the Mets took the appropriate measures,” Swanson’s Attorney Dustin Levine said. “The T-shirt cannon is meant to shoot T-shirts into the upper decks of the stadium.”
Swanson and his sons were sitting in the Pepsi Porch for a June 5 game against the San Francisco Giants when the T-shirt shooter came out during the seventh inning to fire up the crown. Swanson went to the railing, hoping to get a new T-shirt when the operator began to struggle with his air cannon.
Suddenly, it fired a tightly wrapped T-shirt covered in tape and rubber bands directly into Swanson’s face from just 20 feet away, knocking him off his feet. He struck his head in the fall and lost consciousness.
“The cannon was operated and maintained in a grossly negligent fashion and caused Mr. Swanson to be hit by the projectile that is estimated to be traveling at half the speed of a bullet fired by a 9mm pistol.” Levine said. “My client was enjoying what he thought was a perfect day with his three sons and ended up suffering a severe injury that will likely affect the rest of his life.”
QNS reached out to the New York Mets and is awaiting a response.
Levine is basing the case on a 2016 risk assessment of air cannons at sporting events conducted by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that showed T-shirts fired from such launchers can reach “kinetic energies 15 times larger than that of a paintball gun, nine times larger than that of a pellet gun and nearly half that of a 9mm handgun.”
The study concluded “that it is likely that being shot in the eye by an air cannon located directly next to the victim will result in a ruptured globe or penetrated orbit.”
Levine said his client will require laser surgery to reattach his retina that is “hanging by thread,” according to his ophthalmologist, and there are no guarantees he will fully recover. Swanson also suffered from memory loss from a concussion.
“He has no ill will towards the Mets or the players, but he wants to make sure that the cannon is never to be used again to protect future fans, especially small children that may not have been as lucky as him to survive the impact,” Levine said. “He would also like to be compensated for the pain and suffering and the permanent vision impairment to his right eye. The Mets must be held accountable and I hope that we will reach an amicable outcome.”
Levine did not disclose the amount in damages he is seeking for his client in the lawsuit.