Articles Posted in Stadium Injuries

It is the dream of millions of kids across the country to play professional baseball when they grow up. But can you imagine if you worked your entire life towards that dream, only to have it shattered in your very first professional game before you even got to step up once to the plate?

Such was the sad case of Dustin Fowler, a prospect who got his first shot in the MLB with none other than the Evil Empire themselves – the New York Yankees – in June of 2017. Chasing a foul ball and trying to make a play, Fowler ran at full speed into what appeared to be a padded section of wall during an away game in the ballpark of the Chicago White Sox.

However, the section of wall that Fowler unluckily found himself on a collision course for was actually an unpadded electrical box, indistinguishable from its padded wall surroundings. Fowler suffered an injury to his patellar tendon, requiring season-ending surgery and slamming the brakes on his dream that was finally becoming a reality.

Rather than wallow in despair and wonder what could have been, Fowler tackled his rehab after successful surgery and went one large step farther – he filed suit against MLB and the White Sox stadium ownership for failing to ensure a reasonably safe work environment, which ultimately caused his injury, pain and suffering and potential loss of significant income.

Taking the MLB to court

As Michael McCann points out in a recent Sports Illustrated article, professional athletes aren’t likely to pursue legal action against their employers due to a number of reasons. Perhaps they fear public backlash they might receive, perhaps they don’t want to deal with court proceedings and the disruption that could cause to their training regimens. Besides, professional athletes are paid among the highest of employees in the country and have collectively bargained for outstanding health care – so suing to receive financial compensation may not be a top priority either.

Most importantly, however, professional athletes don’t often sue following an injury because they assume the risk of injuries when they sign their contract to play professional sports. Had Fowler simply slipped while tracking the foul ball and broke his arm, he’d have no real legal recourse against Major League Baseball, as that situation is one that could be reasonably expected to happen throughout the course of any baseball game, to any player at any position.

What makes Fowler’s case unique – and why a federal judge just upheld the case’s right to proceed despite an attempt from the MLB and White Sox to have it thrown out – is because it challenges the notion of what a reasonable assumption of risk is for professional baseball players.

The defendants in the case have essentially argued that safety issues within major league ballparks are handled by a specialized safety committee that is charged with addressing potential hazards to players’ health, and that they are not liable for injuries that occur due to safety hazards that aren’t realized and addressed by the committee. However, the judge ruled in favor of Fowler – who argued that the language within the MLB’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union only states that the safety committee will address hazardous situations as they arise, and therefore are not expected to safeguard against every potential, unknown safety hazard at every ballpark.

If a player were to sue Wrigley Field because they slammed into their famous ivy-covered brick wall, they would be unlikely to succeed, as the brick walls at Wrigley are a well-established, well know feature of the ballpark that is essentially engrained into baseball’s storied history. Players could be expected to know the brick wall exists.

However, a random electrical box that has no protective padding and is placed along the same span of wall as other padded sections – and is painted the same color – is not something the average player would know about. This is partially why Fowler’s case has persisted. Continue reading

The Brookline woman who was seriously injured by a foul ball at a 2014 Red Sox game has lost her case against the team. Stephanie Taubin was sitting in a luxury box at Fenway Park when David Ortiz hit a foul ball that smashed into her face. “It was so insanely fast,” she said. “The ball had definite spin on it.” Taubin sued the Red Sox and owner John Henry, alleging that they were negligent for not protecting luxury seats with glass or netting. She sued for $9.5 million, claiming that she suffered from neurological damage and facial fractures.

The jury did not agree with Taubin’s claim of negligence, however. Last week, they ruled in favor of the Red Sox. Following the verdict, Zineb Curran, a spokeswoman for the team said that while they “regret the injury,” they are “pleased with today’s outcome,” and that the “Dell/EMC Club is a safe and enjoyable area from which to watch a Red Sox game. Many of our valued fans, guests, and family and friends have enjoyed the space and return to it time and again.” She went on to say that the safety of fans “is an issue we take seriously, and since 2014, we have twice expanded our protective netting, and continue to evaluate the safety of all seating areas within the ballpark. We thank the jury and the court for their service in this matter.”

According to Taubin’s attorney, his client was paying attention to the game, but the ball was moving too quickly for her to avoid being hit. Taubin says that she could hear her bones crack when the ball struck her face. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Red Sox Owner Admits that the Lack of Glass Made the Box Seats More Dangerous

During the civil trial, which took place earlier this month, Red Sox owner John Henry testified that a section of glass had previously shielded the Dell EMC Club and that it had been removed. “We took the glass off, we took the seats out, we just gutted it,” he said. When asked if he thought that the area had become more dangerous following the glass removal, Henry responded by saying, “yes.” Even so, the jury reached a unanimous decision that the Red Sox were not negligent.

How Many Fans Have Been Injured in Similar Accidents at Fenway Park?

According to reports, a minimum of 51 fans have required medical treatment for injuries sustained while sitting in the same area. Only two weeks before Taubin’s injury occurred, a 44-year-old woman was nearly killed when she was struck by a broken bat. In 2014, a 36-year-old woman was hit in the face with a foul ball, requiring more than 30 stitches to repair the damage.

If there’s any silver lining to this outcome, it’s that this string of injuries has led to the installation of extended netting by all 30 MLB teams. But that doesn’t help Stephanie Taubin obtain the compensation she deserves for her injuries and pain and suffering. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligence. Continue reading

America’s game is back in full swing, bringing tens of thousands of people out to bars, tailgates and ballparks throughout the nation to watch their favorite teams play. Although baseball is amongst the slowest-paced sporting events held in America, it poses plenty of risks to those gathered in attendance.

The most obvious risk of injury at a baseball game is being hit by a scorching line drive or an errantly-thrown bat that makes its way into the crowd. Baseballs hit by professional players can be traveling a whopping 110 miles per hour, giving anybody precious little time to react to avoid one coming directly at their head.

Adding to the very real danger of constant projectiles peppering the stands is the fact that viewing baseball games is, especially today, a viewing experience that is rife with distractions. More and more people stay glued to a phone rather than the action – or lack thereof – on the diamond. Maybe you have a hot dog in one hand and a beverage in the other. These distractions make reacting to a ball headed your way even less likely.

Besides the risk of injury from balls and bats, baseball parks themselves offer plenty of scenarios that could injure somebody. Some seats sit many stories high in the air, with little protection against falls except for short railings. Falls have claimed the lives of fans in the past, and have injured others.

Gatherings of large numbers of people always carry inherent risk of fights, trampling, slips and other various accidents that may result in action being taken against a sporting venue. For instance, a Chicago woman recently filed suit against the stadium of the Chicago White Sox because they allegedly failed to prevent her from tripping over a barricade that protruded into a public walkway.

Successful vs. unsuccessful claims

Should an injury at the ballpark happen to you, there are certain situations and circumstances that will help to determine whether or not you have a legitimate claim to receive financial recompense for the harm you have sustained.

A Cleveland man was recently denied by a jury in his claim that the Cleveland Indians were negligent in not extending their safety nets far enough along the baseline, which he alleged allowed a ball to hit him in the head and resulted in the loss of vision in one of his eyes.

The man had claimed he was being distracted by ballpark personnel who were instructing him to move seats when the ball was hit and struck him. The team had argued that this was not accurate. In this case, hearsay and the uncertainties surrounding the facts of the event most likely sewed enough doubt in the mind of the jury that they couldn’t decide in good conscious whether anybody was directly at fault for the accident.

In the case of the Chicago woman, she may be able to make a better argument because it could hypothetically be proven that the barricade was obstructing a public walkway, and could easily have been foreseen by ballpark personnel as being a potential hazard to the health of their patrons. If this proof is presented, it could help prove negligence on the staff’s behalf, increasing the odds for a successful claim. Continue reading

The spectacle of watching spirted competition is an entertainment draw that attracts tens of millions of Americans to huge stadiums every year. Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, hockey or one of dozens of other sporting events, there’s something primal and special about going out to a venue and cheering your lungs sore for your favorite team.  Some of these sporting events are so popular that the venues required to house them must be humongous, sprawling structures that tower hundreds of feet in the air. Some stadiums, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the world’s biggest sports stadium, can accommodate more than 200,000 fans.

Many of these stadiums must stretch their seating sections high up into the air, and certain sections of the stadium will always pose a risk for serious falls, such as falling over the side of a railing from a high-up seating section, or down a steep stairwell.  Now take into consideration that nearly every major professional sports stadium in the United States serves alcoholic beverages to their patrons, and the potential for disaster certainly increases. There are incidents, seemingly every year, of fans falling from great heights and receiving serious injuries, or worse, actually dying from the incident.

Simply factor in the amount of people present at these events, the possibility of liquids being spilled in dangerous areas, the physical necessity of stadiums being tall structures, and the presence of alcohol, and it isn’t hard to imagine a situation where an injury can occur.

When is the stadium liable?

As with most other personal injury cases, to win a case that alleges your injury was caused by the direct result of the stadium owner or operator, you must prove that the owner or operator was negligent in their responsibility to reasonably protect you against the injury.  For example, if you simply trip over your shoelaces and fall down a flight of stairs, the stadium is not liable, since this was simply an accident that they could not control or foresee. However, if you slipped and fell down those stairs because there was a water spill that they failed to clean up in a reasonable amount of time, you may have a legitimate personal injury case.

What if I’m injured by the sporting event itself?

If you get nailed by a foul ball in baseball, or a basketball player runs uncontrollably out of bounds and lands directly in your lap, these types of events are most likely not something that you can pursue legal action over. Sports venues place disclaimers on each ticket that outlines the potential risk of injury from action occurring during the event, and by purchasing and using the ticket, you agree to those terms.  However, in some cases, if the stadium did not take proper precautions – such as utilizing a big enough ball screen to prevent harm from fast foul balls in areas that are likely to produce them – there may be potential for a successful case. A woman sued the Red Sox in 2015 after such an occurrence. Continue reading

Following an incident at Fenway Park this summer, in which a fan was seriously injured by a foul ball, Major League Baseball has recommended that all 30 clubs enhance fan safety at games. One of their recommendations is to install safety netting that provides greater coverage. Specifically, MLB suggests that netting should shield field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate and those that are near both dugouts.

Fans Should Pay Attention During Each At-Bat

Fenway Park is taking action. In a recent statement, the team said, “The Red Sox take matters of fan safety very seriously and intend to follow the recommendations put forth by Major League Baseball by expanding the backstop netting behind home plate for the 2016 season.” The Red Sox have already begun contacting ticket holders most impacted by the changes. In addition to the installation of fuller-coverage netting, MLB is also asking clubs to adequately warn fans about the inherent dangers of batted balls and bats flying into the stands. They encourage fans to always be aware of their surroundings, and to pay attention during each at-bat.

Injured Fans Approve Fenway’s Installation of Improved Safety Netting

In a statement from Stephanie Wapenski, the Red Sox fan who was injured over the summer, she announced her approval of Fenway’s move toward a safer ball park. “To know that they’re – right now in December – already taking steps, I’m proud, I’m impressed and I’m glad for the Red Sox.” she went on to say, “It’s a smart move. Don’t wait until there’s a worse injury.”

Wapenski wasn’t the only injured fan this year. Tonya Carpenter was also seriously injured when a broken piece of a bat from Oakland’s Brett Lawrie hit her. Her lawyer issued the following statement in response to the installation of Fenway’s new netting. “To the extent that the catastrophe was a stimulus to provide additional netting, at least something good will have come out of her injuries and suffering.” Continue reading

Thousands of people filter into various sporting stadiums across the country to experience the joy of watching their favorite team play a game. These events take place on a near constant basis for a wide variety of sports in all different types of stadiums. Typically, these cheerful events take place without any serious incidents occurring during the time of the game. Perhaps there will be an altercation or two or an exchanging of strong words, but usually everyone goes back home unscathed at the end of the evening. In light of the recent tragic event that happened at an Atlanta Braves game however, safety standards within stadiums are calling for a review to prevent any future tragedies from occurring.

A 60 year old man fell to his death from the upper deck at Turner Field in Atlanta on Saturday night while the Braves played a game against the New York Yankees. The man has been identified as George Murrey from Alpharetta, Georgia. According to witness reports, George Murrey fell at least 40 feet from the top deck of the stadium onto the concrete floor of the first level below. Fans in the proximity of where Murrey had been sitting have said that the man fell over when he was attempting to yell onto the field at Alex Rodriguez—a practice that many in the stadium also partook in at the same time. “When they called A-Rod coming to bat, he got all excited, and his momentum took him over,” said Marty Burns, a fan who witnessed the accident take place. Continue reading

A 22-year old woman was injured late Friday night when she fell two stories down an elevator shaft at Fenway Park.

The victim was with a group of people when she fell from the fourth floor and landed on top of the elevator car, which had stopped on the second floor. According to investigators, authorities received a call reporting the fall just after 11 p.m. when the Red Sox game had ended. The fall reportedly knocked the victim, Lizzy Scotland, unconscious and she was not responsive when firefighters arrived at the scene. Scotland was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess with serious injuries.

Investigators are still trying to determine how the woman was able to get through the doors.

“We don’t know if both doors opened, or one door opened, or if the bottom of the door gave way and she fell through that spot. We’re looking at all the equipment,” Boston Fire Department Spokesperson Steve MacDonald said in a statement.

The Red Sox organization, in a statement released on Saturday afternoon, acknowledged that the woman suffered “serious injuries,” and said team personnel had worked alongside first responders Friday to help her. A Red Sox spokeswoman also said that the remaining elevators in the park were inspected before Saturday night’s game as a precaution. The incident is not considered to have criminal intent, and is currently deemed as an accident.
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Tragedy struck the sports world yet again this weekend, as another fan fell to his death while leaving a football stadium in California.

The man, whose name has not yet been released, fell on Sunday afternoon from the elevated Jamestown walkway that travels around Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers were playing.

Off-duty paramedics and police offers tried to help the man, but the man had already passed. Initial eyewitness reports indicated that the man was intoxicated at the time of the incident, though investigators are still trying to determine what caused the man to fall.

1033829_baseball_park_fans.jpgFan safety has been a very important topic in professional sports, as fan injuries have become more and more prevalent at sports stadiums. Also this weekend, some rowdy fans from the University of Maryland were injured after a section of bleachers collapsed at Ludwig Field during a soccer match against Duke. Last month a 30-year old Atlanta Braves fan died during a baseball game at Turner Field when he fell nearly 70 feet from the upper viewing deck.

Premises Liability Cases

When incidents like this occur, the first questions people usually ask are “Why did this happen?” and “Who is responsible?” People are also concerned about how the incident could have been prevented and how future similar incidents could be prevented. Referring back to an earlier blog we posted about fan injuries in stadiums, there are several things that can explain the legal responsibility a stadium owner has to a fan that has been injured while at the vicinity.

Owners and managing companies of these large stadiums are fully aware of the types of risks posed to individuals who visit their establishments, and often tickets to sporting events or concerts are printed with a disclaimer and assumption of potential risk statement. These statements essentially mean that by purchasing the ticket, the guest understands the risk for injury and assumes responsibility should he or she be injured at the stadium. The statements also relieve the stadium’s owners or managers from assuming legal liability for the injured person.
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A baseball fan died last night after falling nearly 70 feet from the upper-deck at Turner Field in Atlanta.

The incident involving a 30-year old Georgia man occurred around 8:55 p.m. Monday night. Investigators are unsure of why the man fell but believe that the fall was accidental. They have not said whether alcohol was a factor in the fall.

This is the second death at a Georgia sports stadium since last year. Last August a Tennessee fan died after he fell 45 feet at the Georgia Dome during a college football game between Tennessee and North Carolina State.

1373080073tvxcz.jpgWhen incidents like this occur, the first questions people usually ask are “Why did this happen?” and “Who is responsible?” People are also concerned about how the incident could have been prevented and how future similar incidents could be prevented. Referring back to an earlier blog we posted about fan injuries in stadiums, there are several things that can explain the legal responsibility a stadium owner has to a fan that has been injured while at the vicinity.

Owners and managing companies of these large stadiums are fully aware of the types of risks posed to individuals who visit their establishments, and often tickets to sporting events or concerts are printed with a disclaimer and assumption of potential risk statement. These statements essentially mean that by purchasing the ticket, the guest understands the risk for injury and assumes responsibility should he or she be injured at the stadium. The statements also relieve the stadium’s owners or managers from assuming legal liability for the injured person.

In addition to the disclaimer on tickets, venues that regularly host sporting events are outfitted with protective equipment to prevent spectator injury. At Fenway Park for example, there is a protective net behind home plate and surrounding sections to protect fans from wild pitches and foul balls. And at the Bruin’s home ice rink at the TD Garden, there is protective glass as well as netting surrounding the ice to shield spectators from flying hockey pucks.
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