Baseball Fans At Risk of Injury from Foul Balls and Bats File Amended Lawsuit against MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB's 30 Teams

10/23/2015

Lawsuit seeks extended safety netting at ballparks to protect spectators sitting in the most dangerous areas of the ballpark

SAN FRANCISCO  As Major League Baseball prepares for the World Series, baseball fans fearful of being injured by foul balls and bats at major and minor league ballparks, and those who have already been hit, today filed an amended lawsuit against the commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) Rob Manfred, and all 30 MLB teams, continuing a fight to protect vulnerable spectators at ballparks across the nation, according to Hagens Berman.

The nearly 120-page amended complaint details an extraordinary amount of recent injuries at MLB games, including nearly 90 serious injuries and near misses that have occurred just since Hagens Berman filed its original lawsuit against commissioner Manfred earlier this year. The lawsuit asks for safety netting to be extended at all major and minor league ballparks from foul pole to foul pole, to protect the most dangerous areas, where spectators suffer serious injuries. The updated complaint adds as defendants all 30 member teams, and adds as plaintiffs two individuals who have already been struck by foul balls at MLB ballparks.

See the full list of nearly 90 injuries since July 13, 2015.

“Our amended complaint details the almost 90 foul ball and bat incidents that have occurred since we first filed this suit to make ballparks safer,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing fans who filed suit. “Our question for Rob Manfred and these member teams now is how many more traumatic brain injuries, stitches and metal plates until the MLB decides to put fans first and extend the safety netting.”

“Following the commissioner’s listless response, MLB teams have only sat idly by since we filed suit in July, and have seen horrible injuries continue yet done nothing but rake in profits,” Berman added.

The amended complaint devotes no fewer than 35 pages to chronicling serious injuries and near misses to spectators at MLB games, and includes graphic depictions of injuries, including photos of serious injuries that occurred after the initial Complaint was filed.

“The game is changing, and baseball fans are continuously victim to the myth that if they just pay attention, they will avoid injuries from foul balls and bats, but we know that to be untrue,” Berman added. “Pitching and hitting speeds are increasing, players are stronger, fans are closer to the action and distractions are more prevalent. These line-drive fouls scream into the stands faster than anyone could react – faster than you can say ‘foul.’”

The nationwide class action alleges that tens of millions attend an MLB game annually, and every year fans of all ages, but often children, suffer horrific and preventable injuries, such as blindness, skull fractures, severe concussions and brain hemorrhages when struck by a fast-moving ball or flying shrapnel from a shattered bat. The suit seeks to require MLB to retrofit all existing major league and minor league indoor and outdoor ballparks to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole by the beginning of the 2016-2017 MLB season, as well as ensuring that level of safety netting at all future ballparks.

The suit also seeks to create a program to study spectator injuries in an effort to continually reevaluate whether additional measures should be taken, so that precautionary measures can continue to evolve as the sport continues to evolve.

Individuals who have purchased tickets to any minor or major league park may contact Hagens Berman by emailing MLB@hbsslaw.com or by calling 206-623-7292. Find out more about the class-action lawsuit against the MLB.

MLB players, fans and commentators have joined the call for the increased netting sought in Hagens Berman’s complaint.  On Aug. 23, 2015, after a woman was hit in the head at Wrigley Field, the  broadcast commentator stated: “I don’t know how much longer it’s going to take or how many more people have to vouch for the need for it before action is taken.” The other commentator added: “…Does somebody have to die for baseball to take action on this? I don’t know what the holdup could be.” Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander recently took to his personal Twitter page to urge MLB to make changes before it’s too late, adopting the hashtag #dontwaittoolate, which was then shared by injury victims, including  Stephanie Wapenski, injured by an errant bat at Fenway Park in July 2015.

The suit contains graphic, disturbing photos of the catastrophic, avoidable injuries sustained by fans, including the following most recent injuries:

  • On October 12, 2015, a child was struck by a foul ball at the playoff game between the Royals and the Astros.
  • On September 28, 2015, a man was hit by a foul ball at a Giants game.
  • On September 28, 2015, a woman was hit in the face near the eye by a foul ball at a Yankees game.
  • On September 27, 2015, a foul ball struck a woman as she was feeding her 17-month-old toddler at a Marlins game. The woman was tended to by paramedics.
  • On September 27, 2015, a fan was hit by a foul ball at a Cubs game.
  • On September 27, 2015, a foul ball almost hit a young boy at a Marlins game.
  • On September 26, 2015, a fan was struck by a foul ball at a Tigers game while his section was doing the "wave."
  • On September 26, 2015, a woman was hit in the knee by a foul ball at an Anaheim Angels game.
  • On September 26, 2015, a woman was hit by a foul ball at a Royals game.
  • On September 25, 2015, two fans were injured by a foul ball at an Angels vs. Mariners game.
  • On September 25, 2015, a fan was hit in the head by a foul ball at a Tigers game.

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

Media Contact
Ashley Klann
ashleyk@hbsslaw.com
206-268-9363


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02/01/18: Lawsuit Pushes MLB to Expand Netting in 2018

Major League Baseball on Thursday said all 30 of its clubs will have extended safety netting behind home plate at their ballparks this season, aiming to provide greater protection from bats and balls in response to growing concerns over fan safety.

In response to the news from MLB's, Hagens Berman's Steve Berman said, "We are pleased to have pushed Major League Baseball to do the right thing — protect its fans. 
We consider their decision to do so better late than never."

12/09/15: Lawsuit Prompts MLB to Recommend Extended Nets at Ballparks

Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner, Rob Manfred, issued a recommendation to all 30 MLB teams to implement extended safety measures, including additional safety netting at ballparks. more »

10/23/15: Amended Complaint Filed

Hagens Berman files amended complaint adding as defendants all 30 MLB member teams.