SW Legal studies in Business

Baseball Club Had Duty to Protect Patrons in Outfield Picnic Area
Description

Appeals court held that the baseball rule would not protect a club against a suit involving a child hit by a batting practice ball that was hit into a picnic area in the outfield. The club could be found to have violated its duty of ordinary care to protect patrons against injury.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Duty of Care; Reasonable Care; Baseball Rule

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Four-year-old Emilio Crespin and his parents were seated at a picnic table located in the outfield stands at the baseball stadium in Albuquerque owned by the city and used by the Albuquerque Isotopes (the name was taken from the baseball team in Springfield on The Simpsons television program). Emilio was hit in the head by a ball hit during batting practice before the game and suffered a fractured skull. The Crespins sued, contending that the city and the Isotopes breached their duty of care to keep the premises safe for use by visitors. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Plaintiffs appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. The defendants owed a duty to exercise ordinary care for the safety of their patrons. The Baseball Rule carves out an exception to the care that might be expected as fans want to be more involved in the game and not always be behind a fence or net. The rule will not be applied here. It was foreseeable that balls could clear the outfield fence and land in the picnic area before the game. The club should have protected patrons in the picnic area against such balls or been active in warning them of the dangers. People sitting at picnic tables before a game are not likely to be watching everything that occurs during batting practice.

Citation

Crespin v. Albuquerque Baseball Club, ---P.3d--- (2009 WL 3094879, Ct. Ap., N.M., 2009)

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