The parents of a young boy struck in the head when a batter hit a ball into a picnic area before an Albuquerque Isotopes game can sue the minor league team and the city, an appellate court has ruled.
The court said there is ”no public policy reason to justify bestowing immunity on the business of baseball.” The decision clears the way for a lawsuit by the parents of Emilio Crespin to proceed in state district court in Albuquerque.
Four-year-old Emilio Crespin was with his family at a picnic table in the left field stands on July 21, 2003, when Dave Matranga of the New Orleans Zephyrs hit a batting practice home run that fractured the boy’s skull. According to the family’s lawyer, Crespin suffered permanent brain damage.
The stadium is owned by the city and operated by the Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The New Mexico Court of Appeals declined to adopt the so-called ”baseball rule,” which immunizes stadium owners from liability as long as they have screens protecting the stands behind home plate.
The Crespins say the ballclub was negligent in having people sit in an unprotected area where the placement of tables turns picnickers’ attention away from the field and where there are no warning signs or announcements when batting practice begins.
In Colorado, statutory language establishes the assumption of risk as law in the oddly called Colorado baseball spectator safety act, C.R.S. 13-21-120. Under the statute, suit cannot be brought against owners who need only post warning notices.