The parents of Steven Domalewski are suing Little League Baseball, Sports Authority, and the manufacturer of metal bats over his injury from being hit in the chest with a ball hit by a metal bat. The injury caused brain damage and his severe disability. The case will become part of a national debate over the use of the bats. Hillerich & Bradsby Co. is the maker of the 31-inch, 19-ounce Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat involved in the case.
The metal bats are controversial in little league because of the added speed of the balls — and resulting injuries. In Domalewski’s case, he will need millions in medical costs and care.
As the father of a little leaguer in McLean, Va., I have heard some intense debates of the use of metal bats and proposals for a ban. A federal judge last year upheld a ban on the bats, click here.
Little league officials have taken a stand against the efforts. Stephen D. Keener, the president and chief executive of Little League International, has stated:
As the safety of Little Leaguers is our primary concern, we are gratified that the Judge agrees there is no evidence that metal bats are more dangerous than wooden bats. This has been our view all along. Although we are disappointed with Judge Koeltl’s final decision, we do agree with his assessment that the legislation is not supported by factual data.
Simply, there is no evidence to support the position that the game of baseball would be safer if played with wood bats. We enthusiastically support the government’s obligation to protect its citizens, but in this case, the judge has said that the New York City Council made its decision without any factual basis, and we agree.
Other organizations, however, have supported the ban including reportedly USA Baseball, Leaders of the American Baseball Coaches Association, and Protect Our Nations Youth, Click here.
This seems to be a very valid concern for parents and the Little League. It does not seem a good product liability claim, however. One can argue negligence by the league, but these bats do not fit a clear defective design definition under either the Second or Third Restatements.