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Baseball Law: Are Teams Negligent for Not Having More Netting to Protect Fans?

A sad accident at an Atlanta Braves game in 2010 has led to the latest "fan vs. team" lawsuit for injuries resulting from a foul ball. In this case, the fan was a 6-year-old child who was hit by a ball in the head, resulting in a fractured skull and damage to her brain. The family is suing the owner of the Braves and Major League Baseball, claiming that the defendants were negligent in their protection of fans such as the injured child.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the plaintiffs claim that the Braves and MLB were particularly aware of the dangers given that one of their minor league managers, Luis Salazar, actually lost an eye when he was hit in the face by a foul ball at a spring training game. The family's lawyer, Mike Moran, argues that the danger to fans can be easily remedied by putting up more netting in front of the closer seats. The AJC notes that many fans object to teams adding netting around the first- and third-base lines because it can obstruct their views, but Moran counters that the most expensive seats at ballparks are usually directly behind home plate -- and a screen.

The AJC reports that about 200 "foul ball" (or flying bat) cases are filed each year related to baseball games played at any level, but the vast majority fail because spectators are deemed to have "assumed the risk" of any injury. At the MLB level, the back of each ticket specifically states:

The holder assumes all risk and danger incidental to the game of baseball, whether occurring prior to, during or subsequent to, the actual playing of the game, including specifically ... the danger of being injured by thrown or batted balls, thrown or broken bats.

As discussed here previously, there have been several cases and settlements recently in which players -- who are also usually deemed to have assumed the risk of injury -- were injured during games have recovered money. These include a pitcher who was injured while pitching on a mound that was "too big and too deep" and another pitcher who was killed by a line drive.

Posted by Bruce Carton on July 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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