Multiple news outlets, including ESPN.com, reported this week that all 30 Major League Baseball (“MLB”) parks will extend their protective netting beyond where they currently sit as of the end of the 2019 season.
While at the Winter Meetings, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, told reporters that the netting at all ballpark stadiums will extend beyond the duguouts (where the teams sit), but that each stadium will be different. “Seven clubs will have netting that extends all the way to the foul pole,” Manfred said. “Fifteen additional clubs are expanding netting for the 2020 season. There is some variation in this group of 15, but, in general, they are extending netting past the end of the dugout to the elbow in the outfield where the stands begin to angle away from the field of play.”
The Chicago White Sox were the first team to extend netting all the way to the outfield foul poles, which essentially protects all fans on the lower level from foul balls and broken bats that inadvertently fly in the stands.
There have been calls from the media and fans to extend netting at all the ballparks after a series of fan injuries, including the serious injury to a young girl this past season in Houston. MLB is doing the right thing in this situation. I have discussed on this blog in the past that Courts throughout the country have rarely held the MLB or individual teams liable for fan injuries from fly balls. This has been referred to in common law as the baseball rule which says that fans by buying a ticket they are assuming the risk that they could be injured at a game by a ball or a bat flying into the stands. I have criticized this rule over and over again because as the injuries continued, many teams were reluctant to expand their protective netting. The MLB, which knows they probably won’t be held liable in court, is still doing the right thing by expanding the netting at all the stadiums.
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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.
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.
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.
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.