Take Me Out to the Ballgame- But Beware of Foul Balls!

Date: October 21, 2006

It’s October and time once again for an American tradition- the World Series. Two franchises steeped in tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers, will battle for Major League Baseball’s championship crown. These two teams last met in the 1968 fall classic with Detroit winning 4 games to 3 behind the pitching of the Tigers’ Mickey Lolich who bested the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson in a 7th game showdown where both pitchers hurled complete games.

World Series tickets are a hot commodity. Attendance at a World Series game, for players and fans alike, can prove to be a once in a lifetime experience. Fans in attendance are sure to savor the moment and pay close attention to the action on the field. But fans should also be aware of batted balls or thrown balls that may travel into the stands. Pennsylvania courts have historically followed the “no duty” rule which bars negligence claims for injuries suffered at an amusement facility as a result of common, frequent and expected risks inherent during the activity in question.

One of the cases set forth by the Pennsylvania courts to trumpet the “no duty” rule was decided in 1968- which is the same year as the last time the Tigers and Cardinals squared off in the World Series. In IERVOLINO v. PITTSBURGH ATHLETIC CO., the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a spectator struck by foul ball while attending a game in defendant’s baseball park assumed risks incident to the game, and the risk of being struck by a foul ball hit during the regular play of the game was one of those risks.

More recently, in 2005, the Superior Court has buttressed the applicability of the “no duty” rule in the case of LOUGHRAN v. THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES and MARLON BYRD. Loughran was injured when the Philadelphia centerfielder, Marlon Byrd, after catching a ball for the last out, threw the ball into the stands. Loughran brought a negligence action against centerfielder and the Phillies. The case was dismissed with the Court ruling that the injuries received by Loughran constituted an inherent risk of the game, and thus, under the “no duty” rule, neither the centerfielder nor the team for which he played was responsible for the spectator’s injuries. The Court further noted that Loughran failed to establish that Byrd or the Phillies deviated from the common and expected practices of the game of baseball or acted in a manner which would take them out of the purview of the “no duty” rule.
So, if you are fortunate enough to score a seat for the World Series, or any other baseball game for that matter, sit back, relax and follow the words of former Mets’ great Chico Escuela – “keep your eye on the ball”.
Thomas P. Cummings, Esq.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.