While some New Yorkers believe Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, it may well be true that more of us believe that baseball season holds that spot. Major league, minor league, independent league, Little League -- baseball is not called America's pastime for nothing.
For a woman in Indiana, though, a May 2009 independent league game turned into a nightmare. As she sat in the lower section of the stadium, near the first base line, a player connected with the ball. It was a foul, and, she says, she looked up to see where it was going. The ball slammed into her face. The result was a few broken bones in her face and the permanent loss of vision in her left eye.
She filed a premises liability lawsuit against the ballpark, and the park moved for summary judgment. The park believed she did not have a case, because she had ample warning of the risks involved with watching a ball game. The trial court denied the motion, and the case made its way to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court noted that the plaintiff had multiple warnings of the risk of personal injury. There was a written warning on the back of her ticket. There was an announcement before the game started that alerted fans to the possibility of "objects leaving the playing field." There was a sign carrying the same warning. Furthermore, the warning on the back of the ticket included a disclaimer for the park and the team: "The ticket holder assumes all risks incident to the game or related events to which this ticket admits holder; including risk of loss, stolen or damaged property, and personal injury."
The trial court's decision was reversed with instructions that the motion for summary judgment be granted. The Supreme Court agreed with the ballpark, but it declined to adopt the "baseball rule."
What is the baseball rule? We'll explain in our next post.
Legal Newsline, "Woman hit in face by foul ball loses case against Ind. independent league team," Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, July 2, 2014
South Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus, --- N.E.3d ----, 2014 WL 2922384 (Ind.,2014) via Westlaw