It's baseball season and that means an occasional trip to the ballpark, rooting for the home team, peanuts and crackerjacks and all that good stuff. For some few spectators, though, it may mean getting struck by a foul ball and sustaining a pretty serious injury. And then come the lawyers.
I share an interest with Walter in sports injuries lawsuits. He's probably the leading commentator on these issues and a compilation of his baseball posts at Overlawyered is here and a 2006 Connecticut case was discussed at Point of Law here. Over at my perch, New York Injury Cases Blog, we've highlighted some unusual sports injury cases.
The most recent case of note is from New Mexico. There, a divided appellate court this month in Crespin v. Albuquerque Baseball Club, LLC ruled that the long-standing assumption of the risk doctrine does not bar a lawsuit by a four year old boy who was struck in the head by a batting practice home run while the boy enjoyed a picnic lunch in an area behind left field. That case will now proceed to the state's highest court for an ultimate resolution.
An appeals court in Ohio recently reached a different result on assumption of the risk grounds in Warga v. Palisades Baseball. In that case, a woman was struck by a baseball while she was standing at the end of a walkway in the ballpark behind the bleacher. Her lawsuit was tossed out.
New York courts seem to have little trouble dismissing these types of cases on assumption of the risk grounds. Neighboring New Jersey, in direct response to a ruling by its highest court permitting a foul ball injury lawsuit to go to trial, enacted the New Jersey Baseball Spectator Act of 2006 which protects the ball clubs if they have netting in the most dangerous areas (as is the case everywhere I know of) and post warnings. Colorado has long had a similar law.