Mr. James G. Falzon sued the New York Mets and Major League Baseball after being injured when shards from a broken bat flew into the stands where he was sitting at Shea Stadium. He claims, per his complaint, that more should have been done to protect him from the “break-prone” maple bats that were being used by Mets’ players, in this case Luis Castillo.
Mr. Falzon alleges the New York Mets and MLB failed to keep him “reasonably safe from hazards they had actual knowledge of, including the increased danger posed by shattering maple bats,” and “that the players were not careful enough in inspecting and maintaining their bats.”
In addition, Mr. Falzon claims research indicates that maple bats shatter more readily than traditional ash bats referencing a MLB study that found maple bats were three times as likely to break in multiple places than the traditional ash bat. (Baseball bats have traditionally been made from ash trees, but maple bats have gained ground in recent years. Two main reasons: Barry Bonds used them to break the single-season home run record and the career home run record.)
Sounds like a strong case, right? But no – Mr. Falzon never met Attorney Carla Varriale.
Attorney Varriale correctly argued before the court that the issue isn’t whether maple bats are more likely to break than traditional ash bats, the issue is that all fans, including Mr. Falzon, who enter Shea Stadium are warned in advance about the possibility of bat fragments going into the stands and fans assume the risk of incidents such as this occurring during the course of a game. Fans have traditionally been held that if you go to a baseball game, you assume the risk of getting hit by a foul ball or broken bat.
“[Falzon and his family] admit that they voluntarily sat in an unprotected area of Shea Stadium in field box seats that were located in close proximity to the playing field, with the knowledge that they could be injured,” Varriale stated. (Under New York law, baseball stadiums have to have protective netting for the seats behind home plate.)
Because Attorney Varriale correctly identified the key issues and argued the appropriate legal precedent, the Judge rejected the plaintiff’s claim and dismissed the matter.
Both the New York Mets and Major League Baseball are grateful that due to Attorney Varriale’s legal skills, intellect and hard work, neither of them are to be held liable when a fan is struck by a “break-prone” maple bat while attending a baseball game.
Romano On Sports would like to congratulate friend, colleague, Columbia University professor, and publisher of Sports360.com, Attorney Carla Varriale for successfully arguing this case. We would also would like to congratulate the New York Mets for doing something they don’t do frequently – win.
Mr. Falzon plans to appeal.