Lawsuit Prompts MLB to Recommend Extended Nets at Ballparks
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, 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, according to Hagens Berman.
The lawsuit against the MLB filed by Hagens Berman and Hilliard Muñoz and Gonzales LLP in summer 2015 called on MLB, Manfred and member teams to extend safety netting at all existing and future major and minor league ballparks, in an effort to protect vulnerable spectators at ballparks across the nation from being injured by foul balls and bats.
“We’re glad to see that major league baseball and its commissioner are finally addressing the serious safety issue at stake at ballparks across the nation, but we will fight to make these new safety measures more than just recommendations and to make sure the measures are adequate,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “By next season, we don’t want any spectators to be under the threat of being harmed by a foul ball or bat injury, period.”
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.
MLB issued a statement announcing coming recommendations to enhance fan safety at all MLB ballparks, which it states is “the result of a review that began earlier this summer.”
Berman noted, “This review came only after our lawsuit, showing that litigation can be an effective tool to force industry changes. In this case, we have forced these entities to own up to their responsibility to fans.”
“Clubs are encouraged to implement or maintain netting (or another effective protective screen or barrier of their choosing) that shields from line-drive foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts (i.e., the ends of the dugouts located closest to home plate, inclusive of any adjacent camera wells) and within 70 feet of home plate,” the statement said.
Hagens Berman’s most recent complaint against the MLB details the almost 90 foul ball and bat incidents that have occurred since the firm first filed its suit to make ballparks safer. The amended complaint devotes no fewer than 35 pages to chronicling serious injuries and near misses to spectators at MLB games.
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.
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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.