Carroll Master went to watch the Greensboro Grasshoopers play in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife and his two-year-old son. It would cost him his eye. Master was hit in the left eye by a foul ball. It is the latest in such spectator injuries and is part of an ongoing debate over the liability of such teams for torts.
Master was not just shocked by the injury, but the reaction of the team:”It wasn’t long that I was laying there and I could hear the EMT’s saying ‘Oh my God, why are they still playing ball?’ and I actually heard them say stop playing and another ball came our way. . . I’ve not been contacted one time or anything. It’s as though they have no care, interest or fault or anything.”
The Grasshoppers have a standard warning on the back of tickets and post signs around the park stating that they are not responsible for injuries. Such signs are designed to support an assumption of the risk defense and waiver claims. In my torts class, we often debate whether such teams should be held to a strict liability rule as the “cheapest cost avoider.”
Ticket and sign disclaimers do not legally bar any and all injuries due to negligence of the team. There remains, however, remarkable variation in how courts deal with such cases.
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