Everyone going to a ball game knows the risks and the rewards of sitting up in the stands, specifically the fast flying baseballs being batted toward your seat. Sometimes a fan will get extremely lucky and, in the case of Cleveland Indians fan Greg Niel, leave the ballpark having caught four foul balls. On the other end there is a certain degree of danger simply being in those seats. The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to review where liability may lie in the case of Juanita DeJesus who was struck in the face at a RailCats game by a high-flying pop-up foul ball.
The Gary South Shore Railcats won the latest appeal in the Indiana State Court of Appeals. The court concluded that there is an obvious well-known risk assumed by sitting in the stands of a baseball game that a ball could be hit at or toward you. This game took place on opening day, and the ball was hit by the second batter of the day. DeJesus suffered several broken bones in her face and the loss of sight in her left eye.
DeJesus’ attorney argued that the team and park were under the obligation to protect those in the stands from this foreseeable harm and that they failed to meet this obligation by not netting off the fans from the field. The Court of Appeals disagreed, having cited rulings in numerous other lawsuits based on similar grounds. It found no ruling that ever admitted a ballgame attendant could be ignorant of the risks. Furthermore, the appeals court highlighted that DeJesus was not only warned three times about the risks of a foul ball at the game but also noted that she attends games regularly and could have purchased different seats if she did not accept the well-known risk.
Now, the State Supreme Court will look at DeJesus case again. It’s a surprising choice, given the overwhelming case law against this plaintiff. The first statement being made is allowing DeJesus to have her day in court to present why her case is different than the 150 cases cited by the Court of Appeals when they denied the option for her complaint to go to trial.
Just like an exciting 9th inning, the Indiana Supreme Court might be looking to pull an upset on the famous ‘Baseball Rule’, which has historically stated “if you purchase a ticket to a baseball game you are assuming the risk and liability of related injuries.” The Idaho Supreme Court ruled against such a notion earlier this year.
The rare ruling came down in February and involved an injury that took place during a Boise Hawks game in 2008. A foul ball struck a man in the face while he was away from his seat engaged in conversation with another attendee. The man lost an eye due to the injury. After several failed trials and appeals, the case against the Boise team made it to the State Supreme Court. The Supreme Court expressed that there was no necessity to adopt the ‘Baseball Rule’ to appease any sort of public policy and denied the notion that a person buying a ticket is agreeing or signing to the assumption of risk terms listed on the back of the ticket. Now the fate of the team’s liability will be going to a jury, with no ‘Baseball Rule’ for protection.
The Indiana personal injury attorneys at Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson represent those who have suffered and seek justice and compensation for their injuries in and around the Indianapolis area. To schedule your free confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today online, or by calling (888) 532-7766.