Brooks Robinson (Bloomberg News)
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson has notified the Seminole Tribe he plans to sue after suffering a traumatic brain injury at a charity event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
The former Baltimore Orioles player suffered the injury in January 2012 when he fell off a stage during a fundraising legends game for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
Robinson’s attorney, Jack Hickey of Miami, said Florida’s tribal sovereignty compact might prevent Robinson from receiving fair compensation for nearly $280,000 in medical expenses.
But lawsuits against the tribe are limited by the tribe’s sovereign immunity agreement with the state, Hickey said.
“If you are not on property for gaming purposes and you are hurt through the tribe’s negligence, they have tribal immunity in which their liability is limited to the $200,000 statutory cap imposed on governmental entities by the Florida Legislature,” Hickey said.
He sent a demand letter on behalf of Robinson in February, alleging the stage was set up in violation of the South Florida Building Code.
The hotel “constructed the stage and stands on the stage for multilevel, tiered seating, which caused the accident,” the demand letter states.
Hickey, a partner with the Hickey Law Firm, said another former major leaguer, catcher Paul Casanova, injured himself 45 minutes before Robinson fell about 12 feet. A curtain created the illusion of a support behind the stage, Hickey said.
He plans to file the lawsuit in federal court. He said the tribe has indicated it will invoke sovereign immunity and has refused to negotiate.
“Apparently, they are trying to ignore us,” Hickey said.
Robinson suffered a concussion, a brain bleed and other injuries, Hickey said.
Seminole tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said he couldn’t comment directly on the Robinson demand letter, but the tribe takes the safety of all Hard Rock visitors seriously. “Consumers need to know there is liability protection when they come on the property,” he said.
Robinson is considered one of the greatest third baseman in history, winning two World Series and the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1964.
Hickey said he hopes the case will catch the attention of lawmakers in Tallahassee.
“The big question is should they be allowed to get away with this,” Hickey said, referring to the tribe invoking the cap on damages. “It’s really outrageous.”