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Baseball Pitcher Law: When Can Injured Pitchers Recover Damages?

I don't know if baseball pitchers get hurt more than the players at other positions, or if they are perhaps more litigious, but it seems like most of the baseball lawsuits I see are filed by injured pitchers. From what I've seen there is little consistency in the outcome of these pitcher lawsuits, despite a strong "assumption of the risk" defense that you would think would be available to most defendants.

Last year I wrote here about the 17-year-old pitcher in Prince George's County, Md., who fractured his right arm while throwing a pitch in a baseball game. Somehow he obtained a $52,703 jury verdict against the tournament organizer for building a mound that was "too big and too deep." The case settled while the defendants' JNOV motion was pending before the court.

There was also the Montana case last year in which a state judge refused to throw out a jury verdict against Hillerich & Bradsby Co., the maker of Louisville Slugger baseball bats. The jury found that H&B was liable in the amount of $850,000 for the death of a baseball player who was hit by a line drive during a game. The jury found that H&B failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of the bat, and that this failure caused the accident. The court ruled that "in this case the jury may properly have inferred from the evidence that a warning would have been heeded and the failure to warn caused the injury." I still do not understand how a warning label on a bat would change the behavior of a pitcher, but that's why I am only a fake judge.

Most recently, a New York appellate court ruled this week that a college baseball pitcher who was struck in the face by a batted ball during batting practice could not sue his school because he assumed the risk of injury. According to a report in the New York Law Journal, the pitcher argued that a protective L-screen should have been used and that the lighting at the indoor facility was inadequate, but the court deemed these complaints "irrelevant." The court cited the "fully comprehended and perfectly obvious nature of the inherent risk" of pitching in a collegiate game or practice. Two justices dissented in the case, however, leading the plaintiffs lawyer to say that he would urge his client to appeal.

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 20, 2011 at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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