Injured Baseball Fan Cries Foul


Roberts v. Boys and Girls Republic (New York)
(Court Denies Recovery for Baseball Fan Struck by a Bat Accidentally Thrown by Batter in an Off-Field, On-Deck Circle.)

The plaintiff, was an observer at a baseball game as was struck by a bat accidentally thrown from the on-deck circle located just off of the playing field. The trial court granted the defendant baseball association’s motion, dismissing the case based upon the doctrine of assumption of the risk. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Court affirmed the decision and noted that the plaintiff could not recover “because plaintiff concededly observed batting equipment and players swinging bats in the area where the accident occurred.”

NOTE: This decision is in line with the majority position that spectators at a baseball game assume the risk of balls and equipment flying into the stands from the field of play. There has been some minor erosion of this majority position in some jurisdictions (e.g., liability being established if a mascot was distracting the spectators during play), but the cases have been rather consistent in this area of the law.

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