Serving Clients Throughout Upstate New York with Multiple Convenient Locations Syracuse | Oneida | Watertown | New Hartford | Binghamton | Cortland | Rochester | Oswego | Albany | Buffalo

High School Baseball Player Assumed Risk of Multiple Balls in Play at Practice, Says New York Court

Many Syracuse personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are brought by individuals asserting that other people have been negligent. “Negligence” simply means that someone has breached a duty of care owed to another person, thereby causing damages.

Negligence cases can also be filed against businesses and governmental entities – even school districts (both public and private). The inquiry is the same: was a duty breached, causing harm to the plaintiff? If so, the plaintiff can seek compensation for things like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Of course, there are some potential defenses to a negligence claim. Once such defense is that the plaintiff knew and understood the risks of a certain activity and chose to engage in it anyway. A defendant who can prove “assumption of the risk” may have a good legal argument against being held responsible for harm to a plaintiff who might otherwise be entitled to substantial financial compensation.

Facts of the Case

A recent case appealed from the Supreme Court of Broome County involved a dispute between a student athlete and a school district. The plaintiff, a high school baseball player, averred that he had sustained permanent injuries to his eye after being hit in the head by a ball during a practice. According to the plaintiff, his injuries resulted from the negligence of the school district (and related defendants), particularly their decision to conduct multiple infield drills simultaneously such that several different balls were in play at the same time and to do so without proper safety equipment or appropriate precautions.

The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff filed an appeal, seeing review of the trial court’s dismissal of his case.

Decision of the Court

The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case on summary judgment. During the summary judgment phase of the litigation, the defendants asserted that they could not be held liable for what had happened to the plaintiff because he had assumed the risk of injury. In reviewing the trial court’s decision in the defendants’ favor, the reviewing tribunal stated that the key issue in assessing whether a party had violated a duty of care in a sports-based tort lawsuit such as the one at bar was whether the conditions caused by the defendant’s alleged negligence was unique and created a dangerous risk “over and above” the usual dangers inherent in the sport.

Here, the court found that having multiple balls in play was a risk that was inherent in baseball team practices (although not in games). The court then noted that the plaintiff was an experienced baseball player who had played “since he was a young child” and found that he knew the risks of the game, that he appreciated the nature of these risks, and that he voluntarily assumed such risks.

Call a Lawyer in Syracuse

Negligence can take many different forms. If you believe that you or a family member has suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death because of someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, you should talk to a lawyer about asserting your legal right to seek money damages. For an appointment to discuss your case with a results-driven Syracuse personal injury attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 833-200-2000 or contact us through this website.

Contact Information