A Montana jury has rendered a surprising verdict. The jury ruled against the manufacturer of the Louisville Slugger bat, Hillerich and Bradsby. Notably, the jury rejected design defect claims but found a warning defect in the death of 18-year-old Brandon Patch who was hit in the head with a ball hit by a aluminum bat.
We have been following these cases closely as parents have sued over aluminum bat injuries and sought the imposition of “all-wood” rules for Little League, here. Parents complain that metal bats produce dangerously fast hits that endanger little leaguers.
Brandon was killed in 2003 while pitching a game at Helena, MT.
The jury ruled that a proper warning should have been given on the bat itself about the danger. Counsel argued the ball that struck Brandon was traveling at 99.8 miles per hour. A home-run hit off a metal bat exceeds 100 miles per hour.
The jury awarded $792,000 to the family and $58,000 to the parents for their emotional distress.
There is still a request for punitive damages outstanding.
The verdict in a conservative jurisdiction is likely to encourage more such lawsuits as the debate continues to rage over the use of wooden versus aluminum bats.
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