Are bat manufacturers responsible for injuries to pitchers?

The Chicago Tribune carried this story (FREE REGISTRATION REQUIRED) about a 17 year old pitcher who was hit by a line drive in a high school game. The batter hit a pitch and the resulting line drive struck the pitcher in the head causing injury.

So, who is the pitcher suing? The bat manufacturer.

They allege that H&B (aka Louisville Slugger, the bat manufacturer) was defective because when the ball is hit from the aluminum bat, the pitcher does not have enough time to react.

They also allege that H&B failed to affix labels saying (to the effect) “this bat can cause projectiles to be launched at super speeds, so beware” (my wording, not the lawsuits).

Now, anyone who has played the game of baseball knows that the ball flys off of an aluminum bat at greater speeds than a wooden bat. That’s why the pros banned them. Furthermore, any pitcher standing out there knows that he can be injured by a line drive (just like any batter knows he could be injured by being hit by a pitch). It’s part of the “inherent risk” of playing the game.

The plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $50,000 in compensatory damages and in excess of $1,000,000 in punative damages.

So, what say you? Frivilous suit, or does the plaintiff have a reasonable case?

Zev Steinhardt

Frivolous. Though clearly…baseball should be outlawed.

Hello, summary judgment.

Does that allow the judge to direct the defense to send their legal fees to the plaintiffs? Or does an actual trial have to occur, first?

Oh come on. Baseball bats don’t launch baseballs, people launch baseballs.


I think you mean “summary dismissal.”

At least, that’s what I hope you mean. :eek:

Generally speaking, defendants must bear their own fees, whatever stage of the proceeding they win at (assuming that they win).

Many courts allow fees to be imposed in the case of frivolous conduct. This could potentially apply at any stage. Note however, that if the case makes it to trial, i.e. the action survives pre-trial motions, it would be hard for the defendants to argue that the action was frivolous.

Although the plaintiff’s case sounds like a loser to me, I’m not sure that it’s frivolous. Personally, I didn’t know until today that metal bats posed a greater hazard than wooden bats. I had assumed that the pros stuck to wood out of a concern for tradition. So it doesn’t seem totally ridiculous to require a warning. Note that the legal standard for what is “frivolous” is, typically, VERY generous.

And it seems odd to me that the professional leagues would have more concern for their players’ safety than high school leagues.

This is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, come on, I’m no tort-reform-or-die maniac by any means, but surely to God somebody who plays baseball knows you can get hit by the ball.

Getting hit by a batted ball should fall under the category of “reasonable expectation of the possibility of injury” that everyone accepts when playing any given sport.

Actually, your assumption is correct. MLB did a study a number of years ago looking to possibly allow aluminum bats. The main reason they decided not to allow them was because it would fundamentaly alter the game. You’d have 25 home runs per game, and every hitting record would be shattered.

Zev Steinhardt

I am very interested in the outcome, since my son is out for two weeks from a similar incident. Hmmmmmm…:wink:

And don’t forget the sound a wood bat makes when the batter really hits the ball.

Loser of a case:

The pitcher (or, more accurately, his parents) assumed the risk of injury. If you voluntarily involve yourself in activities that are inherently risky, such as, to pull an example out of the blue, being a pitcher in a baseball game, you are presumed to assume the responsibility for the risks involved.
This is particularly true here, as the kid was 17 years old and was a pitcher on his high school baseball team. I’m guessing that he had played baseball for a considerable time in the past, and (as just about every high school, pee wee, etc. league does) he pitched to batters using aluminum bats in the past. He should have noticed “hey, that ball moves pretty fast when the batter hits it.” Having seen this in the past, the kid kept on pitching.


*Originally posted by tracer *
I think you mean “summary dismissal.”
QUOTE]Nah, this isn’t 12(b)(6) dismissal material, or whatever they use in Illinois. (I assume this is in state court, but I ain’t registering with the Tribune just to find out.) It’s awful darn hard to knock out a products liability case for failure to state a claim. It’s conceivable that aluminum bats are especially dangerous and therefore should have a warning label on them. College baseball teams have been aware of this particular problem for years, since big hitters + aluminum bats = danger to pitchers.

If the manufacturer is aware of a significantly greater injury risk for aluminum bats than for wooden ones, a warning label might be appropriate. Of course, assumption of the risk, open and obvious danger, etc., etc., are likely to blow the claim right out of the water. But none of those are issues that should be dismissed out of hand.

Hence, say hello to summary judgment.

plasticbryan, maybe we could get together on this one. My daughter took one in the ribs about three weeks ago. She was out for a couple weeks and is slowly getting back.

Shoot, I could stop saving for her college. :smiley:

Maybe I’m missing something here, but

The batter is using the bat
The batter or the batter’s team owns the bat

So what good would the label do for a pitcher?

It’s not quite as simple as that. Aluminum bats do cause the ball to fly off at a faster speed.But that’s not the only factor in safety. My 11 year old son has played in a few different different baseball leagues.They usually haven’t allowed wooden bats. While aluminum bats cause a faster speed, they also don’t splinter or shatter ( not an insignificant factor with kids who may leave the bats outside in all sorts of weather).

I find it difficult to believe that a 17 year old high school pitcher knows less about bats than the average 11 year old baseball player I run into. They not only know that aluminum is faster, they know which models are likely to be faster than others.And it seems to me that to blame the aluminum bat for the injury, ther’s an implication that he could have gotten out of the way if only a wooden bat had been used. How could he possibly know that?


Went to the link-


went to the link-

one of the “wrongful acts or omissions”-

How, exactly, is a bat manufacturer going to warn pitchers and anyone else who might be in the way?

Good questions, doreen–but questions that will have to have factually sufficient answers by the time of the motion for summary judgment, not right off the bat. :wink:

Well obviously the warning label would tell the batter to yell Fore! before swinging. You silly goose. :slight_smile:

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it will survive summary judgment. I can’t see that by simply being the pitcher, the plaintiff’s conduct rose to the level where we can say he assumed the risk of a defective product. Assumption of the risk might be viable if this were a negligence claim, but I don’t think that it will end this product liability claim. If anything does cause it to fall to summary judgment, it will be that an aluminum bat poses and open and obvious risk, as minty noted. But, doreen suggests different aluminum bats produce different ball speeds. Maybe, just maybe, the plaintiffs have facts that suggest this particular bat model is faster than others.
I tried to see if Cook County had some kind of a case tracking system we could use, but I can’t seem to find one.