By reader acclaim: woman hit by wild throw sues 13-y-o Little Leaguer

by Walter Olson on June 25, 2012

“A New Jersey woman who was struck in the face with a baseball at a Little League game is suing the young catcher who threw it. … Catcher Matthew Migliaccio was 11 years old at the time and was warming up a pitcher” when his wild throw hit Elizabeth Lloyd, who was seated at a nearby picnic table. [AP] More Little League suits here.

{ 8 comments }

1 Anonymous Attorney 06.25.12 at 12:27 pm

Another case that should not be settled on grounds of principle, but that probably will be because insurance is involved.

2 BarryNord 06.25.12 at 12:58 pm

Why were they having a picnic so close to a ball field?

3 Robert 06.25.12 at 1:14 pm

It sounds mean, but she may have spent the past two years simply trying to recover her out-of-pocket expenses, and finally got frustrated.

If you’re sitting in a park, in a designated picnic area, on a proper bench, and get hit by something, is it reasonable for you to pay out of your pocket if someone else hits you?

4 blhlls 06.25.12 at 3:55 pm

If you’re sitting at a picnic table near a bullpen obviously being used by the Little League for warming up, then yes it is reasonable for you to pay the expenses incurred if an accident in the form of an errant ball happens. We used to assume that we would pay expenses we incur when accidents happen as part of normal life.

5 Ed 06.25.12 at 4:14 pm

Something isn’t right here. In warming up a pitcher, it’s mostly pitch and catch. The pitcher may throw some hard pitches to the catcher but the catcher is just throwing the ball back to the pitcher. It raises the question of how hard the ball that hit this woman could/was thrown.

“Intentional and reckless” implies that the kid specifically targeted her. Kind of odd for an 11 year old to be deliberately target her.

She wants 150K for actual injuries and an unspecified amount for pain and suffering. Plus her husband has filed for loss of consortium. This is about money. They’re suing the kid and will then go after the family and Little League who have the deep pockets.

6 Mark Biggar 06.26.12 at 1:31 pm

I thought that there was ample precedent that getting hit by a ball while attending a ballgame falls under “assumption of risk”. That may explain why the suit claims “Intentional and reckless” to get around that precedent.

7 Bill Poser 06.27.12 at 2:07 am

It isn’t clear from the article whether the plaintiff was actually attending a ball game. It may be that she was merely sitting in a park near a ball field. If the latter, she may not have assumed the same degree of risk as if she were in the stands at a ballgame.

I also wonder how the ball hit her since the bullpen is described as “fenced in”. I would think that that meant “surrounded by chain-link fence or netting”, but maybe not.

8 gitarcarver 06.27.12 at 9:43 am

Bob,

Here is a video of the story that shows the layout of the area:

http://wtvr.com/2012/06/25/mom-sues-little-league-player-after-shes-hit-by-a-baseball/

The woman’s son and the kid who accidentally hit her are on the same team. The area in question is outside the field along the third base line. If one were to walk along the area starting close to the plate, there is the team dugout, a picnic area with about 4 picnic tables along the field fence and then a fenced area for pitcher and catcher to warm up in.

The area for the catcher and the pitcher is fenced in, not caged in (no top fencing.)

The design of the area seems not the best to me. If a kid is warming up, a person who wants to watch the game has to have their head on a swivel as the plate area is to their right, and the warm up area is to their left. A person would need to keep their eyes on two things at the same time.

After having stood behind too many 11 years olds who cannot consistently throw 45 feet, the errant thrown in a bull pen doesn’t surprise me at all.

But here’s the real rub. Years ago Little League eliminated the “on deck circle” for under 12’s. The reason? Safety. Leagues compensated by building fenced in areas in which a batter could warm up in. Little League killed that as well. Pitchers and catchers used to warm up “down the lines” on the playing field in foul territory. Little League had a requirement of a “personnel protector” that would stand in front of the player whose back toward the plate in case a batted ball came that way. Little League discouraged that practice for reasons of safety and advised leagues to build…. wait for it….. warm up areas outside the playing area and that were fenced in.

I can’t see how this is the kid’s fault. At best one could say the layout of the field, the warmup area and the area from which to watch the game are poorly designed and interact more than the designers imagined. To me, that is not the kid’s fault.

Then again, the cynic in me – developed after long hours of standing behind catchers and dealing with parents who think a called third strike ruins their snowflake’s chances of getting a professional baseball contract – wants to punish the kid for some sort of interaction with her son. Maybe the kid played ahead of her son and she wants retribution. I don’t know. I wouldn’t put it past people these days though.

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