An Oakland A's fan filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court Monday, demanding Major League Baseball do more to protect its fans from foul balls and errant bats.
The lawsuit states MLB has a duty to protect its fans, and that current netting behind home plates at ballparks is not enough. The lead plaintiff, Gail Payne from Alameda County, wants those nets to cover fans in the infield from foul pole to foul pole. The legal complaint is aimed at the MLB Commissioner, and asks for changes at both the major and minor league levels.
Payne’s Seattle-based attorney Steve Berman spoke with NBC Bay Area by phone, noting: “Foul balls and bats are injuring spectators at an increasing rate.
The lawsuit claims 1,750 people are injured every year at baseball stadiums. Berman cited a recent case in Boston, where a woman was seriously injured when part of a broken bat flew into the stands and hit her in the head.
“The league is uniquely situated to know the number of injuries, and how frequent they are, while the average fan isn't and armed with that knowledge,” Berman said. “[MLB] knows they have a problem the fans don't appreciate and they can easily fix it."
Some fans think the lawsuit goes too far, and say having the chance to catch a foul ball is part of the appeal.
“Then why go to the game, right? Might as well stay at home. I've got my big TV. I can watch a lot more detail. I'll be at home,” Charles Yun said.
Others say it’s time for the league to make changes.
“The baseball bats and the speed of baseball, it's really quick. So people can get hurt really quick,” John Mendoza said.
The commissioner's office released a statement to the Associated Press, stating the league is “in the process of reevaluating all issues pertaining to fan safety, comfort and expectations.”