The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Wednesday:

The Phanatic has been sued in Philadelphia Civil Court by a 75-year-old woman who claims that he injured her knees when he climbed through the stands at a 2008 Reading Phillies minor league game.

Even the woman’s attorney, John Speicher, of Wyomissing, said that people around him have said that "this is like suing Santa Claus."

It’s a common problem for plaintiff’s and personal injury lawyers: how could you sue _________?

Hard as it may be to accept, the Phillie Phanatic is not Santa Claus. The Phanatic is an employee of a highly successful entertainment business with annual revenues of a quarter-billion-dollars. That entertainment business is neither novel nor unusual; the industry in which it operates has had more than a century to develop general standards of conduct to follow when ensuring the safety of its business invitees. The specific job at issue, that of mascot, is more than a generation old.

The highly successful entertainment business is, moreover, either fully insured or so profitable that it has decided to forego insurance entirely.

That business has apparently decided, in the course of entertaining people — for which it earns a revenue of $36 per resident of the Philadelphia area — to push the envelope a little bit and, for the sake of higher revenues, take the risk of sometimes injuring its business invitees.

I have no idea what actually happened to Grace Crass. I don’t know if the Phanatic was overzealous in his efforts, if Ms. Crass did something to endanger herself, or if Ms. Crass is malingering and does not really have any injuries attributable to the Phanatic at all.

As a legal matter, though, if her allegations are true, then why should she, rather than the highly-profit business that endangered and injured her, bear the loss?

No one is suggesting that the Phanatic go to jail. It’s a civil lawsuit against The Phillies, L.P., a business that should be responsible for the harm it causes, just like the rest of us. If Ms. Crass had negligently tripped the Phanatic as he ran through the stands, she’d be liable to him — why shouldn’t responsibility extend both ways?