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Bonds 73rd Home Run Ball Dispute Makes it to Law School (and Theaters)

Dave Fagundes of the PrawfsBlawg had an interesting post on Friday about a documentary called "Up for Grabs," which looks at the legal battle between two men over ownership of Barry Bonds' record-breaking 73rd home run baseball in 2001.

A fan named Patrick Hayashi was triumphantly escorted out of the stands holding the ball. However, another fan, Alex Popov, claimed that he had caught the ball first only to have Hayashi rip the ball away from him in the massive scrum that followed Bonds' blast.

Rather than work it out between them, the two men ended up in court when Popov sued Hayashi. As Fagundes notes, after much litigation, the court ordered divided ownership of the ball. By that time, however, "Bonds’ star had faded enough that the ball fetched a subpar sum at auction -- not even enough to cover the litigants’ attorney’s fees."

Fagundes writes that he now uses the case as a discussion topic in a law school class he teaches. According to this profile, Fagundes teaches property law at Southwestern Law School. Among the themes in the film that he finds particularly interesting is the public's "unanimously expressed scorn for Popov and Hayashi’s decision to litigate the ball’s ownership rather than informally settling the issue." Interviewees in the film seem to unanimously agree that Popov and Hayashi should have privately agreed to split the value of the ball equally between them rather than litigating the matter.

This perspective puzzles Fagundes because it ignores Popov's claim that Hayashi essentially stole the ball from him. "If that’s right, then Hayashi is no more entitled to half of the ball’s value than a pickpocket is entitled to half the cash in a wallet he thieves," Fagundes says. He adds that it may also reflect a distaste for litigation generally.

Check out the trailer for "Up for Grabs" below.


Posted by Bruce Carton on May 3, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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