May 20 2008

Family Sues Companies Over Baseball Accident

Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum batLet me just say up front, I feel horrible for child in this story. My opinions are no reflection on him, or the condition he has been left in. It is tragic, but that does not excuse yet another example of the over litigious nature of the United States.

In 2006, 12-year-old Steven Domalewski was pitching in a Police Athletic League baseball game in New Jersey. He was struck above his heart by a ball hit off of a Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat (not sure if the one pictured is the exact model, but you get the idea). The force of the hit stopped his heart for 20 minutes, depriving his brain of oxygen. He was revived, but was left mentally disabled by the accident.

The family has now filed a lawsuit naming the owners of the Louisville Slugger brand, Hillerich & Bradsby Co., The Sports Authority chain which sold the bat and the Little League all as defendants. Their claim against the first two is that they willingly sold a bat that could be dangerous, and the Little League for allowing the bats to be used in the youth organization.

Something about this whole thing irked me. Well, honestly, it wasn’t “something”, it was “everything”. So, when all else fails, I turned to the diabolical Ms. M, whom I have mentioned many times before, and deep from within her hidden mountain fortress, she replied with the knowledge of a law student, since that is what she is… and said a lot of things I didn’t quite understand. Expecting this, she gave me a simple question to judge the suit’s merit: “is the risk a foreseeable risk to foreseeable people?”

The simple answer to that is “yes”. You are placing your child into an environment that is inherently dangerous. Baseball may look safe enough on the surface, but people do get injured on a regular basis; you are, after all, talking about balls flying around at tremendous speed. The argument with aluminium bats is that they cause the balls to fly harder and faster, which it has been proven they do, and that should be reason enough for all parties involved to realize they are selling a dangerous item, or allowing them to be used.

My problem with this whole theory of them willingly selling an item they know could be dangerous is that this idea could be applied to just about any item in the world. If I buy fried chicken from a company, and I choke on it, does anyone in my family have the right to sue the company that sold me the chicken, the wholesaler who sold them the chicken to fry it and the farmer that raised it? No. I willingly put that chicken in my mouth, just as this family willingly let their son enter that game.

To bring the Little League into it makes it even odder as he wasn’t even playing in their league, but instead the Police Athletic League. According to Ernest Fronzuto, the lawyer acting on the behalf of the family, this is because they allow the bats in their league, so they must be included.

Mind you, I have no knowledge of what type of lawyer Mr. Fronzuto is, but this smells to high heaven to me of opportunistic suing, and if so, it sickens me that anyone would use an injured child in this way. At the end of the day, this was nothing more than a horrific accident that could have happened any number of ways, and I again come back to Ms. M’s question: “is the risk a foreseeable risk to foreseeable people?” The answer has to be “yes”.

Any child playing a sport is being exposed to some form of risk. Heck, any person being on a sporting field is at risk! Look at the photo journalist that just this week got his leg run through by a javelin because he wasn’t paying attention to where he was standing! If you are going out on to a sports field, you should immediately realize you, or in this case a child, runs the risk of being hurt.

Again, I feel for this kid, I truly do, but this lawsuit is nothing but yet another example of the abuse of our judicial system, and we wonder why the courts are backlogged on cases. This case should never see the light of day, but it, like so many other cases, will, and companies that should hold no responsibility will end up paying huge lawyer fees for something that really should hold no responsibility for. What happens then? Well, they raise the cost to the consumer to make up that loss, so we all end up paying for this stupidity.

Great… just freakin’ great. Can I sue someone for annoying me with their stupidity?

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