Ex-MLB Player Sues His Old Team For Career Ending Injury

Former San Francisco Giant’s baseball player, Mac Williamson, has sued his old team for a catastrophic head injury he suffered in 2018. On April 24, 2018, Williamson tripped over the bullpen mound placed in the outfield at San Francisco’s AT&T Park causing him to hit his head against the wall in left field foul territory. Williamson filed suit against China Basin Ballpark Company (“CBBC”) the subsidiary that owns and operates AT&T Park.

According to the lawsuit, Williamson suffered a severe concussion, which allegedly ended his career playing major league baseball. The lawsuit claims the following:

“It has long been known that bullpen mounds on the field of play create an unreasonable risk of harm… Prior to building the Park, CBBC knew, or at a minimum should have known, that placing bullpens on the field of play was a safety hazard for players.”

Typically when filing a premises liability lawsuit and eventually proving the claim in court, the Plaintiff must show that there was a defect on the premises and that the owner knew about the defect and chose not correct it or failed to provide any warnings. In this case notice is not the issue as the Giants placed the bullpen mounds in the outfield foul territory when the stadium opened in 2000 and kept them there until 2019. The question is whether having the mounds out there would be considered a defect. Although not very common anymore, there have always been bullpen mounds in foul territory at major league baseball stadiums. The players obviously know about them, but the question is whether they could still be considered a defect. This is most commonly a question of fact for the jury to decide. So, at the very least, Williamson should be able to avoid any motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions by the defense as long as they have an expert opinion concluding that leaving the mounds on the field are a defect on the premises.

Regardless, the defense will definitely file what are called affirmative defenses, which can reduce their amount of fault. Those affirmative defenses could include comparative fault (Williamson was at fault for tripping over the mound) or also the “plain view” defense as the mounds were in the Plaintiff’s view prior to tripping and he should have avoided it. I think the affirmative defenses will be hard for the defense to prove in this case because because the Williamson’s attorney’s will argue that he was doing everything in his power to help his team win by attempting to catch the baseball and record and out, and while doing so, it was impossible to avoid the mound that he tripped over.

This is a unique case that I haven’t seen before. The damages here could be significant if they can prove that Williamson lost out on multiple years of salary as a major league baseball player. This could total into the millions of dollars. Williamson will also be asking for pain and suffering and loss of a normal life. This is also significant as he is not longer able to partake in his life’s passion – – playing baseball. Plus, his comments indicate that his day to day struggle with his brain injury has been significant.

One final issue to remember is that depending on California workers’ compensation law, Williamson could be owed money from the team for his work injury. Workers’ compensation does not require proof of wrongdoing by the employer. The employee merely has to prove that his accident happened on the job and was caused by his employment. Though the damages awarded are not as high as they would be in civil court, he could be owed payment of his medical bills, lost time from work and a lump sum permanency award for his head injury. There is also the possibility that he could be awarded a wage differential at trial (or via settlement), which is typically 2/3 of the difference of what he was earning in major league baseball less what he can earn in the open market. Again, this could be significant since most jobs do not pay anywhere near what professional baseball players earn. Williamson may have already filed a work comp claim, although it is unclear in any of the media I have read about this case.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Chicago slip and fall case or suffered an Illinois work injury or have an Illinois Workers’ Compensation claim, then call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Illinois Supreme Court Clarifies Homeowner’s Liability With Snow And Ice Removal

It’s winter in Chicago and we have already seen quite a bit of snow. Recently I’ve seen multiple news posts from the Tribune and DNA Info reminding home and business owners of the ordinance the city council passed last year increasing fines for failing to shovel their sidewalks. The updated ordinance increased fines for failure to clear sidewalks from range of $50-$500. It also increases the fine for obstructing the public way with shoveled or plowed snow from $25-$100 to $50-$500. The ordinance requires that daytime snowfall be cleared by 10 p.m. and overnight snowfall to be cleared by 10 a.m. Warnings will be issued before tickets are given. The word from the city hall law department  was that the increased fines are aimed at the “repeat, flagrant offender.”

This raises questions for many business and homeowners as to what their civil liability would be if they do comply and shovel their walk but someone still slips and injures themselves. In other words, what if the homeowner shoveled their walk from a natural accumulation of snow but that they were accused of doing a negligent job?

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled on a recent case that clarified the 1979 Snow and Ice Removal Act,745 ILCS 75/1. In a recent case, Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc., a suburban woman sued her condominium association and property management company for serious injuries from a slip and fall on ice.  In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Mary Jane Theis, The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s judgment and sent the case back to the trial court. “The Snow and Ice Removal Act provides immunity to residential property owners from claims of liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks that result from negligent snow and ice removal efforts, but it does not extend to immunize them from claims of liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks that result from an otherwise negligent failure to maintain the premises.”

The Court has clarified what the law has always been. If a homeowner shovels her walk from a natural accumulation of snow or ice fall, they cannot be held liable in civil court for injuries resulting from said shoveling. (i.e. if the plaintiff sues that the homeowner did a negligent job of shoveling the walk). Where a homeowner can be liable is if the ice is a result of a leaky spout or runoff that is not a result of a natural accumulation. Those were the alleged facts in the above Murphy-Hylton case.

The lesson here is that if you are a homeowner in the city, you definitely want to remove snow and ice from your sidewalk in order to avoid a fine. But, civil liability will most likely be avoided if you attempt to clear the snow and someone slips and falls anyway. I am in know way advocating to home and business owners to lazily shovel their walks. I am just trying to report what our Supreme Court clarified in this recent court case along with the ramifications could be from the city if you avoid to remove the snow and ice.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago slip and fall or Chicago personal injury case, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.