Four Eagles fans who were hurt when a railing collapsed during a game at FedEx Field earlier this year have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the NFL’s Washington Commanders seeking $75,000 in damages for each.
New Jersey residents Michael Naimoli, Morgan French, Marissa Santarlasci, and Andrew Collins filed the suit in the U.S. District Court of Maryland on Friday. The plaintiffs, the suit says, fell about 5 to 10 feet to the concrete walkway of an exit tunnel after a railing lining the tunnel collapsed following a game between the Eagles and what then was known as the Washington Football Team on Jan. 2 at the stadium in Landover, Md.
In addition to the Commanders, defendants include FedEx Field owner WFI Stadium Inc., security company Contemporary Services Corp., and stadium maintenance subcontractor Company Does.
The requested damages for all four plaintiffs total $300,000. According to a recent evaluation by Forbes, the Washington Commanders are worth $5.6 billion.
The suit alleges that the plaintiffs suffered serious injuries such as “cervical strains, muscle strains, bone contusions, cuts, bruises, headaches,” and other physical and emotional harm stemming from the fall. The plaintiffs, the suit says, still receive medical attention for their injuries.
The incident occurred after the Eagles’ 20-16 win over Washington. The plaintiffs, the suit says, gathered at the railing to greet the Eagles players as they were exiting the field.
Fans who were leaning on the railing fell into the tunnel after the barrier collapsed, narrowly missing Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was seen helping some of those who fell back to their feet.
Hurts, the suit says, was “the only individual providing care, help and assistance” to the plaintiffs, adding that none of the defendants in the case assisted them. Video of the incident shows several fans falling and nearly coming into contact with Hurts. Several fans appear to pop back up quickly and embrace Hurts, and one man attempts to capture a selfie. Security guards can be seen lifting a railing and ushering fans away from Hurts back into the stands.
“It was actually insane how calm, cool, and collected he was about everything and how well he handled that situation,” plaintiff Collins told The Inquirer in January. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry about me, are you OK?’”
After the game, the Washington team issued a statement saying that to its knowledge, “everyone involved was offered on-site medical evaluation and left the stadium of their own accord.” The suit claims that the plaintiffs were told to “get the [expletive] out of the stadium” by security staffers and were not examined for potential injury.
Security staffers allegedly had told the plaintiffs that they were allowed to enter the area near the railing, and that no stadium employees or officials warned them against leaning on the railing. The railings themselves, the suit says, were “inadequate, insufficient, deteriorated, unmaintained, uninspected, and, in all material respects, deficient.”
Instead, the railings were not securely installed and “could literally be lifted out from the rail holding” in which they were placed, the suit alleges, adding that the railings were secured together with “zip ties made of thin plastic.”
The incident and the defendants’ response afterward, the suit says, show “a total, outrageous, grossly negligent approach to how to properly attend to” game attendees, including the plaintiffs.