I have written in the past about several major league baseball franchises extending the netting behind home plate in an attempt to protect fans from foul tips and broken bats. According to ESPN, the Toronto Blue Jays are extending the protective netting at Rogers Centre to the outfield end of each dugout this season and increasing the height of netting behind home plate by approximately 10 feet, to 28 feet. Ten other franchises have previously extended the netting in recent seasons and Toronto is one of eleven other teams to announce the extensions for the 2018 season.
It is interesting to see this move by major league baseball. As I have written in the past, when a fan buys a ticket to a major league game, the ticket includes a waiver that exempts the teams from liability due to injuries from errant balls and bats flying into the stands. This also includes a flying hot dog that injured a man’s eye at a Kansas City Royals game several years back. A Missouri appeals court concluded that this waiver of liability included an errant hot dog that flew from a launcher sent out to fans that injured a man.
At a 2016 game in Tampa, who had also recently extended their nets, a foul tip actually flew through the netting and injured a fan. It is unclear whether a lawsuit was filed in that case, but I believe it could have been argued that the Tampa organization could have been held liable because they actually created the dangerous condition by not providing a sufficient protection when the ball flew through the net. Or in the alternative could argue that the netting was defective.
Regardless, it is encouraging to see a majority of the major league baseball teams take necessary steps to protect their fans.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in Chicago personal injury accident or a Chicago workers compensation accident, then please call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.
ESPN.com and the Associated Press reported this morning that a Tampa Bay Rays baseball fan was injured last night when a foul ball struck a woman in the eye. The fan was carted off on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a local hospital. There have been no reports about the current condition of the injured fan.
This is an interesting situation for Major League Baseball (“MLB”) and the Tampa Rays. As I discussed back in February, MLB recommended that all its teams extend its protective netting to at least the dugout on each side. This would provide an additional 70 feet of netting for fans directly to the left and right of home plate. Several teams have obliged including the Tampa Bay Rays and the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. So MLB and in this instance, Tampa, did the right thing by providing additional protection but it does not appear to enough. From the ESPN.com report: “The ball Friday night went through a gap between the netting that was about the size of 1½ baseballs behind an area designated for photographers. On Saturday, the Rays added additional netting to cover the gap.”
Legally, Tampa Bay and MLB could see repercussions, should the injured fan decide to pursue compensation for her injuries. We have no idea right now how serious her injuries are and whether she will sue. Typically, when a fan buys a ticket to a baseball game, there is fine print on the back of the ticket that is essentially a waiver of rights to sue the team or MLB for injuries from things like foul balls and broken bats. Further, many states (including Illinois), have immunity laws intact to protect professional sports teams from lawsuits stemming from these types of accidents at games. In this instance though, there could be a loophole for the injured fan because the Tampa Bay organization took steps to provide additional protection, but did not do an adequate job of protecting all of its’ fans. Here, they left just enough of a window open between nets for a foul ball to sneak through. It will be interesting to see how courts will handle this issue should there be any litigation.
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Reigning World Series Champion Kansas City Royals are the latest franchise to announce that they will extend protective netting all the way up the first and third base lines. They are following a recommendation made by Major League Baseball’s commissioner’s office that all 30 teams extend protective netting beyond the typical area directly behind home plate.
The Royal’s netting will extend to the end of each dugout, which will reach first and third base (approximately 90 feet). The Royals along with Phillies, Rays and Cubs have also said they would follow the recommendation. These teams, along with Major League Baseball, are doing the right thing by extending the netting. There have been numerous injuries at various venues, including at Boston’s Fenway Park last summer when a woman was rushed to the emergency room after taking a baseball to the head.
Baseball franchises have protected themselves from civil liability for years by adding a waiver of liability on the back of each of their tickets, stating that by paying for admission into a game they are agreeing to waive any liability to the major league franchises for any injuries that come from flying baseballs, bats etc… Many states, including Illinois, have imposed statutes protecting major league sports teams from civil liability for injuries that could arise from balls flying into the stands and injuring someone. These waivers and statutes have made it virtually impossible for fans to seek compensation for injuries they may have received for these types of accidents. I believe teams have been reluctant to extend netting in the past because they did not want to open the door to future litigation by admitting that the lack of netting created a dangerous atmosphere for fans. Regardless, this is the right move and I believe prevent serious personal injuries to fans that are sitting defenseless to lightening fast line drives and broken bats.
I would like to see all 30 baseball franchises extend their protective netting.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago personal injury case or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.