A fan struck by a broken bat at a New York Mets game at Shea Stadium lost his bid to sue the team, two players and Major League Baseball, as a judge ruled he took on the risk of being struck by an object from the field when he chose to sit in an area unprotected by netting.
James Falzon was in a third-base-line box seat when he was struck by a portion of a broken bat while watching a foul ball in the outfield. The bat struck him in the face, causing multiple facial fractures and a broken palate. He sued the Mets, the batter (Luis Castillo), the owner of the bat (catcher Ramon Castro) and Major League Baseball, arguing that the players did not adequately maintain the bat (!) and that MLB was lax in ensuring that maple bats were safe. The incident occured in August 2007; the following season Major League Baseball instituted new standards for maple bats designed to cut down on the number of incidents related to shattered bats.
Despite the measures and the claims that shattered-bat incidents were cut down in half, there are still plenty in baseball who think maple bats are inherently unsafe. Last season, for instance, the Chicago Cubs’ Tyler Colvin was hospitalized for three days after a piece of shattered bat struck him in the chest while he was on third base.
Falzon and his attorneys say they’ll appeal, but the verbiage on the back of every MLB ticket — warning you, as a spectator, that items occasionally leave the field of play and can cause damage — once again held up under judicial scrutiny. The Mets conformed to state law by providing netting behind home plate, and the argument that Falzon chose to sit in box seats beyond the netting carried the day.
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