Phanatic sued by Abington woman over alleged pool horseplay

The Phillie Phanatic, shown greeting fans at Citizens Bank Park in 2009, has been sued by an Abington woman over an alleged incident at an Avalon, N.J., hotel pool in 2010. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
The Phillie Phanatic, shown greeting fans at Citizens Bank Park in 2009, has been sued by an Abington woman over an alleged incident at an Avalon, N.J., hotel pool in 2010. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
Posted: June 13, 2012

HE'S BIG, GREEN and usually just a little goofy, but an Abington woman claims that the Phillie Phanatic turned into the Incredible Hulk at the Jersey Shore when he tossed her into a hotel pool.

Suzanne Peirce claims that she was attending her sister's wedding at the Golden Inn in Avalon on July 17, 2010, and was poolside with the Phanatic, who was "engaging in various antics" during a comic routine, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Common Pleas Court and first reported by Courthouse News Service.

The Phillies' mascot suddenly picked up both Peirce and her lounge chair and tossed both into the pool, according to the suit.

Peirce claims that shesuffered "severe and permanent injuries to her head, neck, back, body, arms and legs, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and tissues ..." and more. Although the pool had water, attorney Aaron Denker said, Peirce was tossed into the shallow end.

"The next day she really felt it and had a difficult time getting out of bed and had a difficult time participating in the wedding," Denker said.

It was unclear who was actually in the Phanatic costume that day, so Peirce is suing both Tom Burgoyne and Matt Mehler or any other unnamed individual who was portraying the Galápagos Islands native there, the complaint says. The team and the Golden Inn are also named as defendants.

A Phillies spokeswoman said the team was aware of the lawsuit and does not believe that the Phanatic engaged in wrongful conduct. She declined to comment further. A representative from the Golden Inn did not immediately return requests for comment.

Denker said the Phanatic was not a part of the wedding, although photos on the Golden Inn's website show him posing with unnamed newlyweds. There's also a YouTube video of the Phanatic at the pool there, dancing with some women and playing in the sand with a kid.

The lawsuit does not mention specific dollar amounts, but claims that Peirce has spent large sums of money on medicine and medical attention and has also suffered from "humiliation and loss of life's pleasures."

Peirce, Denker said, is a Phillies fan. n

Contact Jason Nark at 215-854-5916 or narkj@phillynews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonnark

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