Just in Time for Opening Day
Baseball's Looniest Lawsuits

From Little Leagues to the Major Leagues, frivolous litigation threatens America’s favorite pastime.

As baseball season begins next week, Americans may notice that their favorite pastime is slowing be transformed into a lucrative sport of frivolous litigation.

Personal injury lawyers have found their ‘field of dreams’ by filing frivolous lawsuits against America’s favorite sport. Today, lawsuits are filed when a Little League team loses or a ball hits a player.

“Kids throughout Texas ought to be able to play ball without fear of getting sued,” said Jon Opelt, Houston director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

According to Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse here is their starting line-up of wacky baseball lawsuits:

Losing Team Sends Coach to Court
One parent sued his child's coach for not having a winning season and sacrificing his son's chance of competing in a major tournament. The man demanded $2,000 in compensation. The municipal court judge provided a few words of wisdom in a dismissal statement: “What youth players should know is this: In life, as in sports, you will try and you will sometimes fail. There will be no apparent reward except to know that you did your best . . . The fact your team lost does not mean it was your coach's fault.” ( The Intelligencer , Wheeling, West Virginia, January 11, 2000)

Toothless Player Hits a Homerun in Court
During practice, a Little League coach was hitting balls for his players to practice catching. One of his hits knocked out the two front teeth of a player. The player’s parents sued the coach, who paid an undisclosed monetary reward. The wife of the coach commented, “It was an accident. My husband was hitting the ball just like he's been hitting for years and years and years . . . He takes time off from work to be a volunteer . . . It's sad that it comes to things like that. I have seven children. Kids get hurt.” ( Associated Press/Winston-Salem Journal , Winston-Salem, North Carolina, April 23, 2000)

Watch Your Swing!
A Little Leaguer was swinging a bat for warm-up and accidentally hit a teammate in the head. The teammate's parents sued both the player and the Little League for negligence. A lawyer for the bat-swinger said the matter should not be decided in court. “To me, this is another example of why it has become increasingly difficult in this modern day to keep things that used to be part of our culture together,” the lawyer commented. ( Associated Press/Danbury News-Times , Danbury, Connecticut, June 8, 1998)

Hit Me with a Ball, Not a Shirt
During a game, a Florida Marlins baseball fan was struck in the eye when the team's mascot shot a rolled up T-shirt into the crowd out of a “gas-compressed bazooka-like weapon.” The man claimed he sustained permanent injuries and asked for $15,000 in damages. He said that while getting struck by a foul ball may be a risk that baseball spectators assume, getting struck by a flying T-shirt is not. ( Associated Press , January 23, 2001)

And lastly, from the Texas Golden triangle:

Little League on the Receiving End
After a Little League baseball playoff, some members of one team approached the other team’s players, swinging their bats. One of the players who was hit in the knee sued the Little League organization, claiming it was liable for the conduct of the players. The suit was dismissed at the trial court level in Jefferson County. ( Texas Lawyer , “Case Summaries,” March 1, 1999)

The moral from these stories? Unless we make common-sense reforms in our legal system, frivolous lawsuits may soon replace baseball and apple pie as America’s favorite tradition,” Opelt said.

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267