On August 8, 2007, plaintiff James Falzon was in the stands at a Mets game at Shea Stadium when Luis Castillo hit a fly ball. Castillo’s bat shattered upon contact with the ball. Shards of the maple bat flew in several directions, and one of the shards struck plaintiff in the face, causing facial fractures and lacerations.
In addition to suing Castillo and former Mets teammate Ramon Castro (who apparently gave Castillo the bat), plaintiff is suing Rawlings, who manufactured the maple bat. The bat in question here was maple (as opposed to the more commonly used ash), and Major League Baseball has found that maple bats are three times more likely to shatter than ash bats. As anyone who watches Mets broadcasts regularly can attest, Keith Hernandez has opined about the poor quality of maple bats on several occasions. The fact that this bat was maple as opposed to ash could impact the suit here.
Every baseball ticket contains a disclaimer, stating that the “ticketholder assumes all risk, danger and injury incidental to the game of baseball… including but not limited to thrown bats, fragments thereof, and thrown, propelled or batted balls.” Courts tend to give credence to such disclaimers, but given given MLB’s admission of increased risk involved with maple bats, summary judgment could be elusive here… much like that popup Castillo dropped last June against the Yankees.
Thanks to Brian Gibbons for his contribution to this post.