Patricia Higgins and her family have owned Chicago Blackhawks season tickets for 10 years, keeping the same two seats behind one of the nets. Toward the end of the third period of Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, a Johnny Oduya slap shot along the boards inside United Center struck the 55-year old physician.
The end result for Higgins was over 20 stitches, a gash near her right eye, a concussion and reconstructive surgery.
Thirteen months later, Higgins is now suing United Center.
The Burr Ridge doctor, who was presented with the astray puck last July, claims the United Center should have maintained and inspected safety nets “in order to avoid injury to spectators,” according to the lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Higgins was seated behind the safety net in section 115 on June 12, 2013 when the puck was “shot off the ice and struck” her, according to the lawsuit.
Among her claims in the lawsuit are that the United Center was careless and negligent in its installation and maintenance of the nets.
The lawsuit states that Higgins is looking for an unspecified amount of money and to have her legal fees covered.
The protective netting in NHL rinks is only hung at each end, and even then there's still a chance a puck could fly into the crowd and hit a spectator. The Higgins’ family seats are in section 115 at United Center, in one of the corners, an area that is susceptible to flying pucks.
This may not be the only net-related lawsuit to hit the United Center this summer. A fan who was struck during a May 2 playoff game against the Minnesota Wild is contemplating a lawsuit after filing a pre-suit discovery.
According to the Cook County Record, "If the recently-filed court document is any indication, attorneys for the Greens are looking to target a potential suit at those associated with the netting at the arena that is intended to deflect flying pucks."
The fan spent several days in ICU at a local hospital after fracturing his skull, which has left him with a "severe neurological injury.
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