Teenager’s Family Settles Lawsuit in Metal Baseball Bat Case

The family of a New Jersey teenager will receive $14.5 million to help cover the cost to care for his permanent brain damage he sustained during a June, 2006 youth baseball league game.

The victim was pitching when the batter hit a line drive off the metal bat he was swinging.  The baseball slammed into the victim’s chest, just above his heart, knocking him backward. He clutched his chest, then made a motion to reach for the ball on the ground to pick it up and throw it to first base. But he never made it that far. The baseball had struck his chest at the precise millisecond between heartbeats, sending him into cardiac arrest, his doctors have said. He crumpled to the ground and stopped breathing. By the time paramedics resuscitated him, his brain was without oxygen for between 15 to 20 minutes.

The lawsuit was filed against the bat manufacturer, Sports Authority, sporting goods chain and Little League Baseball.

His father, a teacher who had been on the sideline with the rest of the team, said he and a third base coach from the other team both ran onto the field, where his son was already turning blue.

Someone yelled, “Call 911!”  Within 90 seconds, a man trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation who had been playing catch with his daughter, jumped over the fence and started to work on the victim until paramedics arrived within minutes, placed an oxygen mask over his face and rushed him to a hospital. The damage had already been done, since his brain went without oxygen for at least 15 minutes.

“Pretty much, he died,” his father stated in a 2008 interview with the Associated Press. “It was just so fast. The thud, you could hear. When it hit him, that seemed to echo.”

He was playing in a Police Athletic League game, but Little League was sued because the group certifies that metal bats are approved for and safe for use in games involving children.

Little League reached an agreement with the major manufacturer in the early 1990s to limit metal bats’ performance to that of the best wooden bats. Little League said in 2008 that injuries to its pitchers fell from 145 a year before the accord was reached to the current level of about 20-30 annually.

Little League also said on its website that it had banned most metal bats for younger children for the 2012 season, although certain ones found to meet the organization’s testing standards are allowed to be used. League divisions for older players can use metal bats subject to certain weights and size limits.

The victim is now 18 years old and lives with his family in New Jersey. He still cannot perform any functions of daily life on his own. While the money obviously will not give the victim back his life as he once knew it, the settlement will help the family provide the daily care he requires for the rest of his life.

This lawsuit has received national attention regarding children’s use of metal baseball bats in youth leagues. Do you think the family was right in filing a lawsuit against the bat manufacturer?

Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).



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