Astros Settle Foul Ball Lawsuit With Family
Foul ball lawsuits are hard to win, particularly because baseball clubs have immunity from such suits due to the “assumption of risk” every individual takes when going to the park. On the one hand, getting a foul ball is among the most exciting things that can happen during a game. On the other hand, players routinely hit liners in excess of 100 mph giving fans little time to react.
In this case, the victim was not an adult but a two-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture and permanent brain injuries (including seizures) after a foul ball struck her in the head. The Astros agreed to settle the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money.
The baseball rule
The law is filled with general rules and then notable exceptions. Generally, a proprietor is responsible for the safety of the guests they invite onto their property for their own financial benefit. The baseball rule states that owners cannot be held liable for foul balls that injure spectators. Teams have to meet minimum standards of protection to qualify for this immunity. There was, in this case, some question as to whether or not the fans were adequately protected by netting. Essentially, the law makes it impossible for spectators to sue a major league ballpark for a foul ball injury, and yet more and more of these lawsuits are making headlines.
There may be a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, guys just hit better nowadays than they did in the past. You’d have to go back to 1920 to find a season in which ballplayers were hitting the ball as hard as they are today. This could be due to changes to the ball that don’t absorb impact as much as older baseballs. If baseball wants to juice the ball to make it fly off the bat harder, then changes will need to be made to the netting that protects fans. Most clubs have already employed these changes.
Exceptions to the baseball rule exception
Even the exception has exceptions. It is unclear if any those exceptions played a role in the settlement reached with the Astros. Fans who are not in a seating area can pursue lawsuits against the club. Also, those who are at work at the game, or are not spectators can also file lawsuits. Lastly, you can file a lawsuit if you’re injured during batting practice.
In each state, the question is: What is the ballpark’s minimum duty of care to the spectators. In cases where the park is alleged to have not met that minimum duty of care, negligence lawsuits can proceed. In this case, the club settled the lawsuit, but we don’t know for how much. It’s unclear that the lawsuit would have survived summary dismissal if the Astros fought it.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured because a proprietor failed to secure the premises, disregarded your safety, or left a dangerous condition unremedied, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.