Friday, October 30, 2009

Montana Jury Finds Bat Maker Liable In Child's Death

I had reported on a similarly sad story previously, but a jury in Montana found against the maker of Louisville Slugger, Hillerich and Bradsby, which was ordered to pay $850,000 to the family a child that was struck by a ball hit using a Louisville Slugger aluminum bat.
Hillerich and Bradsby has been ordered to pay $850,000 to the family of 18-year-old Brandon Patch. The teenager was killed during a 2003 baseball game after being struck in the head by a batted ball off an aluminum bat while pitching during an American Legion game in Helena, MT.

The Patch family argued aluminum bats are dangerous because they cause the ball to travel faster than those hit off wooden bats. They said Brandon did not have enough time to react after the ball was hit.

Although the jury did award the Patch family money saying that H&B failed to place warning labels on the aluminum bats, they also said the bat was not defective.
I expect that H&B will appeal the verdict, primarily on grounds that the bat was not defective and also that warnings would not have changed the outcome.

Moreover, I expect the costs from any changes made as a result of this suit to be passed on to the end users - whether it is the phasing out of aluminum bats in favor of wooden bats (of which there are concerns over maple bats and the fact that they shatter when they split), and/or the higher replacement costs for wooden bats compared against aluminum bats that reduce operating costs for Little Leagues, plus higher insurance costs for playing.

The verdict sets a dangerous precedent for the bat maker and other baseball bat manufacturers who produce aluminum or composite bats.

It also raises red flags for Little Leagues and others engaging in organized baseball activities since they too could be liable for injuries sustained through the use of the aluminum bats.

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