A jury in Montana has found that the maker of Louisville Slugger baseball bats failed to adequately warn about the dangers the product can pose. A family was awarded $850,000 for the 2003 death of their son who was pitching in a baseball game. The family of Brandon Patch contended that aluminum baseball bats are dangerous because they cause a baseball to travel at a greater speed than a wooden bat does. The parents said that their 18-year-old son did not have enough time to react to the ball being struck before it hit him in the head. Brandon was pitching in an American Legion baseball game in Helena, Montana., in 2003 when the incident occurred.
The jury awarded a total of $850,000 in damages against Louisville, Kentucky-based Hillerich & Bradsby for failure to place warnings on the product. The parents said that they hope the decision will make more people aware of the dangers associated with aluminum bats and that more youth leagues will switch to using wooden bats. Hillerich & Bradsby had argued that accidents are bound to happen in baseball games and there’s nothing inherently unsafe about aluminum baseball bats.
As most parents with children know, metal bats started being used in amateur sports in the 1970s. Interestingly, professional baseball still uses wood bats. Some amateur teams have decided to switch to wooden bats in recent years, in part due to Brandon’s death. He was pitching for the Miles City Mavericks when the ball ricocheted off his head, eventually falling behind first base after traveling as high as 50 feet in the air. The youngster died within hours from his injury.
His family’s lawsuit was one of several in recent years involving aluminum bats made by Hillerich & Bradsby. Last year, the family of a New Jersey boy who suffered brain damage after he was struck by a line drive off an aluminum Louisville Slugger bat sued the company and others, saying they should have known it was dangerous. Steven Domalewski was 12 when he was struck by the ball in 2006. His family’s suit is pending in New Jersey Superior Court.
In 2002, the parents of teenage pitcher Jeremy Brett of Enid, Oklahoma, won a jury verdict against Hillerich & Bradsby and was awarded damages. The couple filed suit after Jeremy was hit in the head with a ball hit off an aluminum bat made by the company, suffering severe head injuries. The bottom line is that schools and team sponsors must make a decision on whether to use the aluminum bats, which won’t break, or to use wood bats which now break far too easily. It’s a matter of weighing economic factors against safety issues.
Source: Associated Press
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