An aluminum baseball bat manufacturer has been held largely responsible for the death of an 18-year-old pitcher who was struck in the head by a batted ball. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed an $850,000 jury verdict for the family. The player died from head injuries sustained in an American Legion baseball game. The player was struck by a ball hit by a player using a Model CB-13 Louisville Slugger aluminum bat. The family filed a failure-to-warn lawsuit against the manufacturer. It was alleged that the manufacturer’s aluminum bat increased the dangers because pitchers have less time to react due to the increased velocity of a batted ball. The manufacturer contended that state law allows only actual users of a product to bring a failure-to-warn claim and that the company owed no duty to “bystanders” like pitchers and fielders. The Supreme Court disagreed and wrote:
A warning of the bat’s risks to only the batter standing at the plate inadequately communicates the potential risk of harm posed by the bat’s increased exit speed. In this context, all of the players, including [the
Plaintiffs’ son,] were users or consumers placed at risk by the increased exit speed caused by [the manufacturer’s] bat. [The manufacturer] is subject to liability to all players in the game … for the physical harm caused by its bat’s increased exit speed.
I don’t believe that aluminum bats should ever be used in a baseball game at any level of play. The bats are dangerous when used in the normal and expected matter. The federal government should bar the use or at the very least require manufacturers to give adequate warnings of the risks. Having played baseball at the college and semi-pro levels, I know from experience that wooden bats are much safer than the aluminum bats.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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