New Jersey Couple Sues Metal Bat Manufacturer

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.

For the full story, click here and here.

11 thoughts on “New Jersey Couple Sues Metal Bat Manufacturer”

  1. Hello… playing baseball…. there is a risk of injury with the game, and the parents do know this before hand. I think that they even signed a paper to this effect, leaving the league with their proof of insurance and release of liability. I hate it when people do this.
    It is a huge tragedy that this little boy died. I am sure that the parents are very angry about his death.
    If you take the bats out of baseball then what? Wooden bats can still hit a ball hard enough to kill a child, especially an outfielder taking a direct line drive to the head. Where does it all stop? Do we start using tennis balls and plastic bats? Do all of the players need to dress in full catcher gear? Do we start padding the infield?

  2. jane:

    “it was an accident due to a risk [the parents] were aware of.”

    Do you have a second job as a “salt rubber”? The law requires that, to deny recovery, the assumed risks being knowingly and intelligently made by the person bringing the claim. Did the child who suffered the harm know? Do you think these parents were aware of the information that Patty C revealed above? I wasn’t and I handle tort cases for a living. Also, do you think the child’s estate (in the person of his siblings and other beneficiaries who may not be his parents though they certainly are two) is owed nothing, regardless of the parents’ supposed negligence? By that I mean, if two or more people act negligently to cause or contribute to the death of another, should all go free because some were the parents, and they, in your view, played some role? How about if the parent was driving the family vehicle 5 miles over the limit on New Years Eve, and they were hit by a drunk driver? Should the child’s estate be denied recovery because the parent knew the risk that some drunk might be out on the road that night and contributed to the accident by negligently exceeding the speed limit?

    I hope you meant no insult to this family, and I know you were using your “common sense,” but as we so often see, a common sense analysis is the most fundamental, and fails to consider all rights that the law considers important.

  3. It’s a tragedy that this child was hurt & will suffer permanent damage, however, if the bat manufacturer, or Little League are to blame, then the parents should be the first to BE sued.
    Doesn’t every parent that enrolls their child in a sport consider the potential dangers first? Bat – whether aluminum or wood – can and did impose irreversible damage to a person.
    They can’t say they didn’t know their son could get hurt, or that bats & balls would be used.
    This is a sad situation, but sorry parents, there’s nobody you can sue ~ it was an accident due to a risk you were aware of.

  4. Listening to “Twitty’s” inane drivel, I’d meltdown too.

  5. niblet:

    We always knew your thinking was backward, but “telbin”?

  6. Is Olbermann on the Verge of Another Professional Meltdown?
    By Noel Sheppard | May 19, 2008 – 14:17 ET

    People that have been following the career of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann are fully aware that it’s only a matter of time before he has a professional meltdown forcing him to once again change jobs.

    Such was the case in 1997 when he abruptly left ESPN due to what he referred to in a Salon article five years later as having been unable to “handle the pressure of working in daily long-form television” while admitting that “deep down inside I’ve always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn’t, and that some day I’d be found out.”

    We believe it, too, Keith.

    With this in mind, according to Monday’s New York Post, history is about to repeat itself

  7. May 19, 2008 — IS Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s top-rated anchor, on the verge of yet another professional meltdown? His feuding with “Hardball” host Chris Matthews is nothing new. But now we’re told notoriously odd Olbermann is lashing out at the rest of his network’s talking heads. During West Virginia primary coverage the other night, Olbermann began pounding the table when lead White House reporter David Gregory didn’t wrap his segment quickly enough to satisfy him. Olbermann recently encouraged management to oust the cable channel’s lone conservative, Tucker Carlson, and it’s also no secret among producers that Olbermann refuses to introduce Dan Abrams’ show, which follows his own. Olbermann walked out of MSNBC years ago in a huff after also blowing up at ESPN, so TV insiders are curious if this recent behavior is a sign that history will repeat itself. MSNBC did not respond to our calls and e-mails seeking comment.

  8. What is suggested/regulation-length and weight for Youth metal baseball bats? I couldn’t tell…

    The quote at the bottom from a former Louisville Slugger bat designer is telling…

    …”Studies in the American Sports Medicine Journal indicate a pitcher’s ability to react to a ball hit from 60 feet, 6 1/2 inches away (the major league regulation distance) stops after 155 km/h. A 2002 report for the Journal for the American College of Sports Medicine found 37 per cent of balls hit by an aluminum bat reached 160 km/h, while just 2 per cent hit with a wooden bat did.

    And Domalewski, like Green, was pitching from just 45 feet away.

    Stephen Keener, president and CEO of Little League, recently told USA Today that the elimination of metal bats would lead to a “dramatic decline” in enrollment at the lower levels of the game.

    “Non-wood bats spread the weight (of the ball) out across the bat,” Keener said. “It’s easier to handle, to swing and, for a lot of kids, to have a greater success playing the game.”

    Since the introduction of the metal bat in 1971, it has been remodeled many times to improve performance. The steady push to make bats more powerful prompted Jack MacKay to quit his job as a metal bat designer for Louisville Slugger in 1989.

    “This is the kind of technology you ought to be throwing at bin Laden, not some baseball pitcher,” MacKay told The Sporting News in 2002. “We’ve over-engineered it. It’s the worst thing I ever did. Aluminum bats and wood bats are not even in the same ballpark”. “

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