Follow-up on the “Baseball Rule”

Last week I posted about the recent Georgia Court of Appeals case revolving around a fan being injured by a foul ball. This led me to do some investigation of some similar claims.

In 2003 the Georgia Court of Appeals held that neither the Braves nor Andruw Jones were responsible for a ball thrown by Jones into the outfield stands between innings.

In reaching their decision, the Court cited a case from 1949 which stated “[O]ne who buys a ticket for the purpose of witnessing a baseball game and who chooses or accepts a seat in a portion of the grandstand which his own observation will readily inform him is unprotected, voluntarily assumes the risks inherent in such a position, since he must be presumed to know that there is a likelihood of wild balls being thrown and landing in the grandstand or other unprotected areas.” Dalton v. Jones, 260 Ga. App. 791, 792 (2003) (citing Hunt v. Thomasville Baseball Co., 80 Ga.App. 572, 56 S.E.2d 828 (1949)).

In other words, the plaintiff assumed the risk that a ball may be thrown into the stands and cannot recover for an injury sustained by such a throw. Will the Court differentiate a thrown ball from a batted ball? Or differentiate between the location of the seats?

As I head out to the ballpark tonight, I hope nobody in attendance has to confront these questions!


Georgia Court of Appeals Refuses to Adopt the “Baseball Rule”

On July 11, 2014, the Georgia Court of Appeals allowed a suit against the Atlanta Braves to proceed.

The suit centers around a Melky Cabrera foul ball that entered the stands near the third base dugout and fractured the skull of a young girl. At this juncture of the case, the Court declined to adopt the “Baseball Rule”.

The “Baseball Rule”, which has been adopted by courts and legislatures in some other states, allows the owner of the stadium to escape liability for foul balls entering the stands as long as the owner screens the most dangerous section of the field (the area directly behind the plate) and provides enough seating in the screened area for patrons who may wish to sit there (see footnote 3 of the opinion linked below).

While the Court  refused to adopt “Baseball Rule” at this stage of the litigation,  it is unclear whether they will do so should this case return after trial.

There is no question that the area the plaintiffs were sitting was dangerous. Should the patron assume the risk of sitting in such places at a ballpark or should the club be required to take more steps to protect the fans? It will be interesting to see if this case goes to trial and, if so, what direction the Court will take should the verdict be appealed.

The other  night at the Greenjackets game I sat in a similar place to where the girl was sitting. There isn’t netting and I know it is dangerous. I feel as long as there is the opportunity to move from to an area behind the netting around home plate that a stadium shouldn’t be required to protect me from foul balls or bats that enter the seats.