“Plaintiff strikes out in lawsuit over Angels bag giveaway”

by Walter Olson on February 2, 2007

“A judge tossed out a sex and age discrimination lawsuit Thursday against Angels baseball that claimed thousands of men and juveniles were wronged during a promotional giveaway at a Mother’s Day game. The gift – a red nylon tote bag – was offered free only to women age 18 and older.” (Erik Ortiz, Orange County Register, Feb. 2; Lex Icon, Feb. 1). For more on the action by attorney Alfred Rava and his client Michael Cohn, see May 11, May 23, and Aug. 19, 2006.

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1 Bob Smith 02.02.07 at 9:14 am

While I believe this is the right result, I have little doubt that if the Angels had run a promotion offering free gifts only for *men* age 18 and older this lawsuit would not have been tossed out by the judge.

2 markm 02.02.07 at 12:41 pm

Bob, this was a Mother’s Day giveaway. If it had been Father’s Day, then they should have been able to run a promotion offering free gifts only to men.

I can see a second argument, although the article doesn’t say the ballpark presented it: If a business recognizes that is’s been selling poorly among one large population segment (women, in the case of sports), it’s quite reasonable for the business to target its marketing to that group.

3 David Nieporent 02.02.07 at 1:55 pm

While I obviously think the suit was ludicrous, and I approve of the result as a matter of justice, I’m not sure I approve as a matter of policy. What this does is say that, yes, Unruh is written ridiculously broadly, but rather than fixing it, we’ll leave it up to the discretion of judges to apply it rationally. I see two problems with that outcome:

1) It means that whether the law is enforced will depend on how popular the defendant is and how sympathetic the plaintiff is, rather than on an objective standard.

2) It means that there will be uncertainty as to whether the law applies in any particular case, which just encourages trial lawyers to play the lottery, hoping to find a gullible judge or jury.

If the court would have ruled for the plaintiff in this case, yes, the plaintiff and his lawyer would have won an illegitimate windfall, but it might have convinced someone to take a look at Unruh’s crazy language. (Of course, if we cynically assume that the legislature will never fix Unruh because of pressure from left-wing identity politics groups, then this is the second best outcome.)

4 David Schwartz 02.05.07 at 6:46 am

To “target its marketing to that group”?! Targeting your marketing to a group means that you advertise in places that group is likely to see, not that you offer discounts or specials available *only* to members of that group.

5 amy hayes long 02.05.07 at 2:50 pm

Free gift is redundant.

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