Throwing fan out of the ball game leads to $10,000 payoff

By Calvin Palmer

A baseball fan is $10,000 richer thanks to a settlement in the lawsuit he brought against the New York Yankees and New York City.

Bradford Campeau-Laurion, 30, claimed he was ejected from the Yankee Stadium by a police officer because he left his seat to use the bathroom during the playing of God Bless America.

The federal lawsuit argued Campeau-Laurion was the victim of political and religious discrimination and that his rights were violated at the August 2008 game.

The city did not admit liability but in yesterday’s settlement agreed to give the Queens resident $10,001 and will pay $12,000 in legal fees to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

For its part, the Yankees will pay nothing but said in settlement papers that fans at the team’s new stadium are allowed to move freely during the song and there are no plans to change that.

“Policy remains as it always has been: Fans are free to move about during the playing of God Bless America,” said Alice McGillion, spokeswoman for the Yankees.

At the old stadium, freedom of movement was restricted when ushers used handheld chains to block off some exits while the tune played, although chief operating officer Lonn Trost has said they were instructed to let through spectators with emergencies.

In May 2007, Trost told The New York Times that the practice was the result of fans who were upset that not all spectators were respectful enough during the playing of God Bless America.

“This settlement ensures that the new Yankee Stadium will be a place for baseball, not compelled patriotism,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. The city Law Department had no comment.

Police spokesman Paul J. Browne earlier claimed the on-duty officers ejected Campeau-Laurion because he was drunk and disorderly. But the Red Sox fan said he had two beers, an hour apart, and enjoyed the game quietly.

Only in America.

I say only in America because where else would someone go by the name of Bradford Campeau-Laurion? It sounds like an anagram. The name of a Yorkshire city preceding those of Gallic origin makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Marseilles Higginbotham somehow does not quite carry the same social cachet.

Only in America because nowhere else would someone be that motivated to bring about such a lawsuit and then have it taken so seriously.

Only in America would an organization deem it disrepectful to move about during an Irving Berlin song. God Bless America is not the national anthem. I must remember never to move a muscle during a rendition of White Christmas.  Who knows what wrathany movement could incur?

Still, it makes a nice little earner for Bradford. He must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Perhaps, I should consult with an attorney to see if any of my rights have been violated recently, $10,000 would certainly come in handy.

[Based on a report by newsday.com.]

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