February 07, 2005

Spectator injury raises legal questions

A dentist who was temporarily blinded by a Jimmy Rollins foul ball is seeking $50,000 in damages from the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia. Does he have a case?

The AP reported that Neil Pakett was struck in the face during a 2001 game at Veterans Stadium and said he would have been protected had the backstop met the recommendations set by "Architectural Graphic Standards," and if the backstop had been angled differently. Pakett claims his eyesight is still not fully recovered.

The defense argued that case law dictates that fans take on the responsibility of protecting themselves when they attend sporting events.

BPF take
Pakett's injuries are unfortunate, but are not the fault of the Phillies or the city of Philadelphia.

The path of a baseball is decided by chance. A baseball could theoretically sail anywhere to varying degrees, an understood risk of baseball.

Most baseballs that leave the playing field travel back and out of play, in the area where Pakett was seated and argues should have been protected more had the Phillies followed the recommendations set by "Architectural Graphic Standards."

I searched and couldn't find anything on whether "Architectural Graphic Standards," an illustrated book of building construction, was considered an official guideline for major league backstops.

In reality, there are no mandated stadium safety requirements other than fire exits and capacity restrictions. In fact, stadium operators are not bound to protect or warn spectators from "expected" incidents like foul balls. That means backstops are entirely optional, making the backstop, its size and angle, irrelevant to the case.

Pakett isn't asking for the sky - only $50,000 – but history will prevail in this case. Even if decades of case law were thrown out, an important fact in this report is Pakett "attempted to catch the ball," according to court documents. Small as it may be, there is a difference between catching the ball and protecting yourself.


At 3:24 PM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

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