U.S. Senators From Illinois Pen Letter to MLB Regarding Protective Netting

The Chicago Tribune U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckwork, both from Illinois, have co-authored a letter to Major League Baseball (“MLB”) asking the league to “collect and report” data on regarding ballpark fan injuries. This letter comes in the wake of multiple incidents of fans being struck by foul balls hit into the stands. Some of the incidents, including one in Houston, have resulted in serious injuries to children.

According to the two Democratic Senators they feel disclosure of the date “will provide a more honest public dialogue and help protect baseball’s biggest — and littlest — fans… Disclosing that information would help inform fans and their families about the safest locations to sit.” 

As of this year all 32 teams have extended their netting to the length of each team dugout. As I wrote a few weeks back, the only MLB team to update their netting and extend it all the way to the outfield was the Chicago White Sox, who implemented the changes over the All Star break in July. Chicago’s other team, the Cubs, have stated publicly that they don not know when or how they will extend the netting at Wrigley Field due to unique architectural issues.

I think this type of letter is a step in the right direction for protecting fans. I hope MLB follows this requests and discloses all of the data to the public. Also, I would like to see other MLB teams follow the White Sox lead and extend the netting bast each dugout. We have seen too many injuries in recent years not to take extra precautions. If teams do not extend netting and the injuries continue, I hope that state courts look at this decision by MLB and start holding teams civilly liable for these injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered a Chicago personal injury or been injured in a Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago White Sox First Major League Team To Extend Protective Netting

I have written multiple times over the past few years about a number of baseball fans injured by foul balls at major league baseball games. Over the past few years, all the major league teams extend protective netting to the end of each dugout where the players and coaches sit. Despite these extensions over the last few years, fan injuries have continued.

A 2 year old boy was injured in Houston earlier this year, along with a 3 year old in Cleveland earlier this week. Last month a woman was injured at a Chicago White Sox game. This woman’s injury was enough for Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to take action. He asked his grounds crew overt the All Star break to investigate and eventually install protective netting that extends all the way to the outfield foul pole. The first game with the new netting was this week against the Miami Marlins. The only other team to announce adding the additional netting were the Washington Nationals.

What will the rest of major league baseball do in response to all these injuries? I hope they follow suit and do what the White Sox have accomplished. Obviously the technology is there, and there is no reason for teams to hold off any longer.

The question remains whether injured fans have any recourse against teams and major baseball. The family of the 2 year old has filed suit against the Houston Astros and Major League Baseball. Typically, these types of lawsuits have been dismissed based on an assumption of risk rule (referred to as the “baseball rule”) that protects major league teams. Each ticket sold basically states that they are not responsible for injuries that come as a result of errant foul balls, and courts have held that this should protect the teams and league from liability. But will this hold up when the teams know that the netting they currently have is not enough to protect fans? They are on notice and if they refuse to extend the netting, then I believe a court should refuse to dismiss these types of cases. I hope the case is litigated so that we can see a change in the law.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago accident lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Houston Astros Fan Sues Team For Injury Caused By T-Shirt Gun

During the summer of 2018 a woman was attending a Houston Astros baseball game. Between one of the innings, the Astros’ mascot was launching free t-shirts into the crowd. One of those t-shirts struck this women in the hand, and apparently caused a serious injury. Since that time the woman alleges she has had multiple surgeries, missed time from work and has suffered serious pain and suffering. As a result, a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the woman against the Houston Astros alleging negligence by the team and their mascot.

There have been similar lawsuits filed against in Major League Baseball in the past. I wrote about the case in Kansas City where a fan was hit in the face by a hot dog launched by a similar style gun. That man suffered a detached retina in one of his eyes, and unfortunately he lost his case before a jury. Major League franchises, including teams in the baseball, have in the past been protected with immunity for injuries that come as a result of foul balls and broken bats. All teams put a disclaimer on their tickets stating fans are assuming the risk of these potential accidents and injuries while attending games. This is often called the “baseball rule.” That legal theory, in place for about a century, presumes an inherent risk among those attending a baseball game, and assigns fans responsibility for paying attention and being prepared for the occasional ball or bat coming their way. But should that apply to antics put on by the team in between innings like launching t-shirts into the crowd?

I have not seen the complaint filed in the Astros case, but I am curious if they have filed a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the t-shirt launcher. They could allege that the gun is inherently dangerous and/or defective due to the speed in which the t-shirts are launched. Also, I would imagine that the attorneys for the Astros will file multiple affirmative defenses including comparative negligence. These types of defenses attempt to shift the blame on the Plaintiff, and will depend on the facts of the accident that will come out during depositions. Specifically, that type of defense would hinge on how active this women was in attempting to catch the t-shirt. Did she stick her arms out and partake in attempting to catch the t-shirt? Or, was the just an innocent bystander? Also, the Astros defense team will more likely than not file a motion to dismiss based on the assumption of risk disclaimer discussed above.

I think this woman faces an uphill challenge of getting her case actually before a jury (due to expected motions to dismiss), and ultimately winning at trial. I wish her and her team luck as she appears to have suffered real permanent damage to her hand, and I believe the courts have gone way too far out of their way to protect teams when injuries like this occur. Especially, when the injuries are caused by acts by the mascots rather than foul balls or broken bats.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago personal injury or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Toronto Blue Jays Latest MLB Team To Extend Protective Netting Behind Home Plate

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.

Extended Net Not Enough To Protect Fan At MLB Game

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.

If you or someone you love has been injured in serious Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

KC Royals Latest Team To Extend Protective Netting Behind Home Plate

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.