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Injured youth receives $14.5 million after being hit by liner

Aug 22, 2012, 1:18 PM EDT

Stephen Domalewski

The family of Steven Domalewski received $14.5 million to settle its lawsuit with Little League Baseball, The Sports Authority and Hillerich and Bradsby on Wednesday.

Domalewski, then nine, was struck in the chest by a line drive while pitching in a Police Athletic League game in 2006. He went into cardiac arrest, and while paramedics were able to get him breathing again, he was left with brain damage after going 15-20 minutes without oxygen.

“The Domalewskis are still saddened by the tragic events of June 2006, but this settlement provides them with some relief and comfort that Steven will get the care he needs for the rest of his life,” said the family’s attorney, Ernest Fronzuto. “He still can’t perform any functions of daily life on his own.”

Although Domalewski wasn’t playing in a Little League game, Little League Baseball did sanction the Louisville Slugger metal bat that was used to hit the liner. The Sports Authority sold the bat, and Hillerich and Bradsby manufactured it. Now each is out millions of dollars because of some very bad luck.

Of course, young Steven’s life was ruined by the incident. Ideally, this money will be used to make sure he’s provided for and treated well. Still, one imagines there will be enough left over for shiny new cars and island getaways for the family and lawyers.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. number42is1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Boy oh Boy matt…. you’re gonna take alot of shit for that last comment.

    • mja2001 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      Yeah, that was snarky at the end.

      Back to the issue though… those bats let kids put so much energy into the ball, it was only a matter of time before someone got killed. Parents (and kids) said it back in my LL days in the late 80’s. I was a pitcher and got hit here and there. Scared the hell out of my Mom in the stands…

      It still happens, I pitch in slow-pitch softball and take a bruise or 2, and make some snazzy “Happy Birthday” catches (I do love the, “OHH!” from the crowd though).

      There’s got to be a limit as to how much your equipment is allowed to maximize that energy transfer for safety.

      And no, this isn’t exactly a “purity of the game” issue as they’re METAL bats, not wood…

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        MJA: I hear you Man! We play in the top level of our Competitive League. And the last thing the other teams ever want to do is hit it up the middle at our pitcher. With today’s technology…guys get killed. We take it very serious.
        If you hit it up the middle your pitcher better have chin guards the rest of the game.

      • keithbangedyermom - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:07 PM

        Snark is the name of the game with all bloggers. Its ridiculous.

    • The Common Man - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      Yeah, and I thought I was cynical.

      Island getaways and shiny cars for the family and their brain-damaged, wheelchair-bound son? What a scam! We should all be so lucky, right? Right?
      /awkward, uncomfortable silence

    • skids003 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      This is a sad story, but it’s life, and life isn’t fair. That being said, $14.5 million is a load of sh*t. The lawyers make out again, I agree.

      • The Common Man - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        Do you even know what you were trying to say in this comment? I sincerely doubt it.

      • skids003 - Aug 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        I know exactly what I was trying to say. Evidently, you’re too stupid to figure it out.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:42 PM

        1) This kid cannot and likely never will be able to take care of himself. Current average annual cost of daily home health 8 hours per day) is $55.5K. Assuming 3% interest, and using the current average annual life expectancy, the cost of taking care of him for the rest of his life is approximately $10M. The medical care costs to date, hospitalizations, intensive care, rehab, etc are likely at least $1M.

        Whether anyone likes legal fees or not, the lawyers usually take 30-40%. To not hurt the kid financially, that would equate to around $16M total.

        Then, really, you also have to addin housing, food, clothing, etc since he cannot get a job when he grows up to pay for that either.
        2) The only way the settlement of $14.5M is out of line is to presume the manufacturer did not in fact make an unsafe product. However, that is the settlement, and thus the defendants have essentially admitted that their bat was unsafe.

        That family did not just get rich as the money is not enough to live in the lap of luxury while taking care of what will obviously be life-long, expensive care. If they manage that money smartly, though, it is enough, thanks to interest on savings and so on. If they don’t and act as stupidly as Pouliot cynically suggested, it will not be enough. Again, assuming a normal lifespan for the boy.

  2. townballblog - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Nice post except for the last paragraph, Matt. There’s no reason to suggest that would happen at the end of what was otherwise a “good for them” post.

    • donniebb23 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      No reason other than stating the truth

    • skids003 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      This is what is wrong with this country. That gets passed on o the rest of the consumers.

  3. unlost1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    what good are millions without a healthy brain to spend it?

    • vallewho - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      I can’t believe this…

  4. hojo20 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I got hit with a baseball in Little League. Where’s my 14.5m?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      Did you also used to eat paint chips as a kid?

    • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      In a locker at the airport. They saw you needed some class and they threw that in for free.

  5. mrwillie - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Well, call me skeptical, but I think the last sentence needed to be said.

    What happened to the kid is absolutely horrible. That being said, I don’t see what Little League, and especially Sports Authority, and Louisville Slugger, have anything to do with it.

    Does it really matter though, this will be tied up in appeals for another decade, if and when they actually get any of that money.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      will receive $14.5 million to settle his lawsuit against the bat manufacturer, Little League Baseball and a sporting goods chain.

      The settlement of Steven Domalewski’s lawsuit was announced in state Superior Court on Wednesday morning in Passaic County. The boy, now 18, lives in Wayne, N.J.

      Bolded the important part. It’s being settled, so there is no appeal.

      • mrwillie - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        Yes, that is an important detail I missed. I can’t imagine what they were actually seeking in damages then.

        Still doesn’t change the ridiculousness of the suit in the first place.

      • seattlej - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:41 PM

        Obviously the defendants probably agreed that there was some level of merit to the plaintiff’s claims. This isn’t the kind of silly, little lawsuit that you just settle in order to avoid the costs of litigation.

      • johninpa - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:36 PM

        Actually, I suspect this kind of money is nothing to the parties involved. Just out of curiousity, I researched the Sports Authority. They were bought out by a private equity firm (Leonard Green and Partners) a few years ago for $1.5 billion, and the firm itself is worth about $15 billion. Even if SA was liable for 100% of the settlement, $14.5 million is pocket change. I suspect for them it’s worth it to settle just to avoid bad publicity. No business wants their name splashed across the headlines because they are fighting to avoid payment to a tragically brain injured young man. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t come out of any of the businesses named in the suit, but rather some insurance firms that provide their liability coverage.

    • paperlions - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      This. Accidents happen, some are horrible. None of which means that anyone is to blame or that millions in compensation is warranted.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

        Unless of course that accident is due to either negligent practices or an unsafe product. This was an unsafe product and the settlement approximates how much it’s going to cost that kid to live a normal lifespan with daily home health. See my post above.

    • danrizzle - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      1) This is a settlement, not a verdict. No one appeals settlements other than class members who didn’t approve it. The court case is over.

      2) About Matthew’s last sentence, sure the parents might take the money and buy shiny new cars and island vacations and stuff with it, but to do so would be a crime and they would probably end up in jail. This money is the kid’s money and it is going to be held by his parents or guardian, or more likely a third party fiduciary, for the kid’s benefit and with the purpose that it doesn’t get dissipated. Whoever controls the money–even if that’s the parents–will be under a duty to account for all expenditures and can be called into Court at any time to file an accounting. So while that doesn’t guarantee that the parents won’t do anything wrong, they run the risk of civil and/or criminal embezzlement liability if they do.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        Considering the settlement was overseen by a judge (has to be since it’s a minor), I’m sure the money is going to be put in a structured settlement with some upfront money going to the parents. But the majority will be put in a trust to pay out for the kids medical bills over time.

      • number42is1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Question: if something should G-D forbid happen to this kid and he dies what happens to that money? this is purely curiosity and nothing more.

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        Can’t answer the question of where the money goes if he dies because we don’t know the terms. Sometimes they pay out over the years (after lawyers get their fees) and sometimes it is a lump sum. If a pay out, then the money stops because the need is gone.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        Ugh my reply was eaten.

        He’s still a kid now (16) so most likely the parents will be set up as beneficiaries in case he dies. Once he turns 18 he’ll be able to, if he’s of sound mind, to set the beneficiaries (if there’s any remaining payment left) to whomever he chooses.

    • nightman13 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:41 PM

      I don’t understand why anybody would be liable for this. The kid was playing a sport and there is some risk associated. Anytime a kid gets hurt playing a sport the family has a right to sue to league, equipment manufacturer and the retailer that sold it?

      I understand that this was an especially tragic incident, but I just don’t see how there would even be a case.

      • nightman13 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        Is there anybody with a law background that could explain this?

      • dondada10 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        I think a lot of people are wondering this. You don’t want to be insensitive toward the kid or parents, but injury in sport is an inherent risk.

        If a basketball player is undercut going for a lay-up and hits his head so hard that it causes brain damage, is the floor manufacturer liable? What about the store the hardwood was sold from?

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        I do not have a law background. But it seems pretty clear that the plaintiffs were going to go to court and claim that manufacturers were making bats and allowing them to be “lively” when the technology existed to deaden them to the same as wooden bats. They probably had extensive data on injury rates using different types of bats. That’s why these tort cases have such huge legal fees. The lawyers will go to court with storerooms full of data on any aspect of the case you could think of.

        As to liability, I imagine again it is the same as it will be with encephalopathy and the NFL. The entity had access to data or knowledge that they were not sharing fully with the players. Therefore the risk was not fully known by the participants.

        You can like it or not. But I’m sure that is the basis for the settlement.

      • nightman13 - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the family will have the financial means to take care of their kid and it is awful that it happened, but I just was shocked that it was settled.

        I would have never guessed there would be a case that could go to court, let alone strong enough that they would settle it. When I played youth sports (well over 10 years ago) we had to sign waivers which I always assumed were for things like this.

      • dugldo - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:24 PM

        Have had to sign a release for every team my kid has been on. “. This sport has risk…. you hold harmless xxxx. All expenses, incurred due to, injury are responsibility of player and/,or players family…”

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM

        This sport has risk…. you hold harmless xxxx. All expenses, incurred due to, injury are responsibility of player and/,or players family…”

        That absolves the league of responsibility (and even then not necessarily), not the bat manufacturers. As alluded to above, what if the Louisville Slugger people created a bat out of a compound that made the ball leave the bat at a speed that was so fast, a player 45′ away couldn’t react fast enough? Would you think that’d be a negligent act?

      • nightman13 - Aug 22, 2012 at 8:15 PM

        That’s probably the key right there. The manufacturer made an unsafe bat and the league should have been regulating the bats. I still don’t see how Sports Authority figures in here, but the rest makes a little more sense now.

      • shzastl - Aug 23, 2012 at 12:06 AM

        Stex52 is pretty right on. This area of law is called strict products liability. When a product is “unreasonably dangerous”, the company is liable to anyone injured by the product. The plaintiff need not prove “negligence”; showing that the product was unreasonably dangerous and caused injury is enough. It basically reflects a policy choice that the cost of injuries suffered by an innocent consumer should be shifted to the company that made millions of dollars selling the product and is better able to absorb those costs. For the commenters who think the suit is ridiculous, if product manufacturers were not held liable for such injuries, they would have no incentive to make products safer. Your car would not have an airbag or seatbelt, lawn darts would still be puncturing little kids’ heads, etc.

        In addition to the manufacturer, any company in the supply chain can be held liable, such as a distributor or retailer. That is why Sports Authority was involved. However, many states have an “innocent seller” defense and/or the seller can seek “contribution” from the company that was ultimately at fault for the defect.

        Here, as stex points out, the plaintiffs’ lawyers likely developed significant evidence that something about the design of this particular bat was more dangerous than comparable bats, creating higher velocity and a greater risk of serious injury, or that there were safety measures that other bat manufacturers use that would have prevented the injury. If other little leaguers had suffered similar injuries, even if not as severe, that would be powerful evidence, particularly if the company knew about it and didn’t issue a recall on the bats. That would put them in danger of being hit with punitive damages–the company knew about the likelihood of this type of severe, permanent injury, yet continued to expose young kids to that danger. That would provide a strong incentive to settle rather than leave it to a jury.

        As to the car analogy, yes if someone gets in an accident caused by a defective automobile they could certainly sue the manufacturer. A few examples that come to mind are the ford pinto (exploding gas tanks in rear end collisions), and toyota’s recent problems with uncontrollable acceleration. It is true that people understand they are taking certain risks when they get behind the wheel, but no one would consent to drive an unreasonably dangerous death trap that would explode and cause severe or fatal injury in a routine collision. The same reasoning applies to this case. True, playing baseball involves certain inherent risks, and if the bat was as safe as any other on the market, the player would have no case and the company never would have gone through six years of litigation only to settle. However, no one would agree to play in a game with a bat that was not designed in a way that would reduce an unreasonable risk of serious injury.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 26, 2012 at 10:53 AM

        1000 bonus points for shzastl for the clear and accurate explanation. I wish I could go back and make every “this is ridiculous” commenter read it. Maybe a few would then understand that $14.5M settlements do not happen in cases where it is not merited.

    • The Common Man - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      I too believe that this was probably not Little League, Louisville Slugger, or Sports Authority’s fault. That said, I think it’s not at all fair to paint the parents as demons in this. The kind of care required to make sure this kid has an acceptable quality of life is incredibly expensive, and he’ll need it for the rest of his life. As a parent, I think I’d probably do the same thing if I was staring down the barrel of so many bills that I might not be able to pay, because I have a responsibility to take care of my child first and foremost.

      And to suggest that the parents are likely to fritter it away on shiny cars (presumably a tricked out van with hella sexy wheelchair access) and luxurious trips is pretty much beyond the pale of decency as far as I’m concerned. Why you’d choose to question the parents’ motives while knowing absolutely nothing about them is beyond me.

      • Alex K - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        This times 100. I can’t imagine looking at all those costs without any sort of help.

  6. futbolhistorian - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Maybe the message here is that we get rid of aluminum bats once and for all.

    • GoneYickitty - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      And hit with what? Wet noodles? You say “get rid of aluminum” but the best hitting bats or not aluminum (they are composites and alloys) so I assume you mean any non-wood bat. That will have the affect of further pricing baseball out of the range of all but the wealthier families. Wood bats break and wood is not cheap. A majority of high school programs would cease to exist if they were required to use wood bats as that would more than double the budget of most programs.

      In Little League the rubber is 46 feet from home plate so the pitcher is likely about 40 feet away from the point of contact. If you make a bad pitch and it gets crushed right back at you there is a chance you’re going to get hurt no matter what reasonable material the bat is made from.

      The thing with wood is that it doesn’t really hit that much differently if you square up the ball. It is much less forgiving, but people aren’t getting hurt on the poorly hit balls, it’s the ones squared up. Both my sons play baseball year round in AZ at the highest levels of competition and they play in both regular school and scout leagues & tournaments as well as wood bat leagues and tournaments. There just isn’t that big of a difference on a well hit ball. Even at 12 years old, some of these kids can hit a ball very hard with a wood bat, especially at those distances. You can’t go watch that and believe that going to wood would fundamentally alter the risk equation.

      In an ideal world nobody would get hurt doing anything and I feel terrible for this kid. Unfortunately life can suck sometimes without it being the “fault” of anyone or any particular element. I remember a couple of years ago a catcher died from taking a foul tip in the chest and it stopped his heart. The ball couldn’t have been going more than low 80’s at the level he was playing, but it was just a freak accident. People blaming the bat in this current situation is just dumb. When balls are flying around there is a risk of injury and you’ll never be able to change enough things about the sport to remove that risk until you just stop playing.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 27, 2012 at 11:54 PM

      It’s not that the bat was aluminum; it’s making bats to impart greater energy transference than acceptable levels. That’s why in recent years different leagues and the NCAA have required “deadened” bats.

  7. jtchernak - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Feel bad for the kid it’s scary to have a ball come back at you but that’s bs that his family can sue a company that makes the bat you take the risk of playing not anybody’s fault

  8. stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Wouldn’t bet on it Matt. Complete care for a helpless, brain-damaged individual for 50 or 60 years is going to be a lot of money in the America of the future. I didn’t look at the terms of the deal, it might have punitive damages. But if it doesn’t, I’m guessing that is a total payout over a lifetime and the Net Present Value is a great deal less. Right now complete care probably runs $75,000-$100,000 a year. Over 50 years that will go up a lot. Do the math.

    • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Oh, and I forgot. 40% contingency for the lawyers.

    • mattyflex - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      Federal Long-Term Care is about $30,000 per year. That is not around the clock care, just daily six hour visits in-home.

      Having said that, I couldn’t come up with an additional $30,000 per year to help take care of my son should something like that happen. I don’t know of many people that could. You’re absolutely right in saying that over 50 years the cost will go up immensely, as well. Nationally, any form of health care has not dropped in price from one fiscal year to the next, ever. It never will.

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        My cost estimate comes from experiences of friends and family with aging parents or relatives. I used an experience factor for total Alzheimer’s care because that would be similar, the patient would not be able to assist in their own care at all. That got me to the $75,000. I guessed up to $100,000 because I know there are more expensive care areas than the Texas Gulf Coast.

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        And medical care has been going up at about 7% lately. That doubles the cost in only ten years.

      • mattyflex - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        I did not mean to discredit your personal experience whatsoever. The Federal program is pretty standardized as far as cost goes, and obviously privatized health care is going to be a lot more expensive, so I would say your numbers are probably right on target for what you discussed.

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        Matty, I had no problems at all with your comments. I am an engineer by trade. It is instinctive for us to explain our bases and calculations.

  9. dadawg77 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I would say the last paragraph probably explains what the lawyers will do with their money but would think the family spends on the kid. Also without the lawyers the family probably goes bankrupt with the cost of taking care of the kid.

  10. metalhead65 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    yea how horrible it would be for the parents to actually use the money on transportation for themselves or to take a vacation if they want to. I would think one of those new vehicles would be a van equipped to handle transporting the kid around since he you know can’t walk. and it would also be horrible if they used the money to buy a new house designed to make it easier for him to get around in. the kid has a long life ahead of him and that money may not last as long as you think it will so if it makes their life a little easier then good for them.

    • Reflex - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      First time I’ve ever felt like thumbing you up. Hell, properly equipped vans for this stuff are NOT cheap.

      $4.5 mil only sounds like a lot to people who have no clue what this kind of stuff will end up costing.

      • number42is1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        14.5 not 4.5. unless that was just a typo on your side.

      • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        Minus 40% for the lawyers. And, like I said, we don’t know if that is total payout or Net Present Value.

  11. pkswally024 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Aluminum bats have been known to be dangerous for many years. There’s no need for them.

    • nightman13 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Agreed, I play 3rd base in a men’s softball league and more often than not I feel like dodging rather than fielding.

    • stex52 - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

      There is a basis for the settlement in what you just said.

  12. 1sportschica - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    What a really unprofessional comment by the writer in the last paragraph–totally uncalled for–how amateur. Hopefully I won’t be reading about anything else by you in the future.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      It’s true though. They’ll be getting at least 1/3 and maybe up to half of that amount.

  13. Stiller43 - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Obviously you feel bad for the kid and anyone close affected by the situation…but wth would they file a lawsuit for getting hurt during a game, and how could they win it?

    Dont want to take the risk? Dont play…

  14. escapingexile - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    It’s obviously horrible that any child should have to go through such a life altering event due to the events that occurred playing a game they likely loved. I wish there was some sort of fund that we had in the world that was set up to cover medical costs for children like this over the course of their lifetime. That being said, I find the lawsuit to be ridiculous. There is obviously an inherent risk when playing any sport. As parents, if we need a disclaimer to tell us that then we are failing miserably as humans. Where do we draw the line? Sue the city who allowed the game to be played? Sue the child who hit the ball? Sue the player who endorses the bat company? Sue the paramedics for not reviving him fast enough to prevent brain damage?

  15. illcomm - Aug 22, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Let me first say that I wish the bet for the kid and hope he money will somehow make his life better. But this is utterly stupid.

  16. Tim's Neighbor - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I’m dumbfounded by Pouliot’s angle here. There is nothing here to suggest any sort of devious nature of the lawyers companies or family involved. Everyone agreed to this settlement. I’m sure that the family is thankful for the assistance of competent lawyers, as is the right of everyone in this country to have access to.

    Pouliot’s comments demonstrate a blatant ignorance of the law and his accusations are as irresponsible as baseball writers accusing players of using steroids when they start performing better. Pouliot is a joke. Way to make it about your uninformed self.

    Accidents do indeed happen, but companies are still 100% liable for their product. Is it unreasonable to think that we’ve hit a point in bat technology that has become dangerous to participants?Absolutely not. Sure, consumers choose to purchase the bats, but they are hardly experts in the science (and medical side) surrounding youth and this technology. Companies involved weren’t willing to risk it in court to say that they werent liable.

    • Alex K - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      I don’t see how Sports Authority or Little League baseball (since the game wasn’t Little League sanctioned) are liable, at all. I think it would be very hard to prove that Louisville Slugger was laible for the horrible accident, too. Could it be proved that a different bat would have caused a different result?

      • Tim's Neighbor - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:57 PM

        Bat technology is pretty sophisticated. A less “hot” bat would see baseball propelling slower. This is inherently safer. In general, children simply don’t have the reactionary skills to handle dangerous speeds nor do they fully understand the risk involved in dangerous activities. Limiting dangerous play is a priority for LL, who does endorse this league. With their helmet and other safety rules, LL has already established that they know that baseball is dangerous.

        SA sold the product intending for minors to use it, ignoring the dangers. In the US, we’ve established that you can’t sell reasonably dangerous things to minors. Guns, weaponry, copies of Andrew Dice Clay videos.

        LS made a product specifically for the minors, ignoring the dangers. Again, companies in America are 100% liable for their products. A product designed for one person to propel an object at other people at speeds that could easily result in injury and death is one that shouldn’t be marketed to children.

      • Tim's Neighbor - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:58 PM

        And I appreciate the civil discourse. It’s reasonable to disagree here. Unfortunately, Pouliot trolled his own thread by being an irresponsible jack-wagon.

      • Alex K - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        By that standard SA should just stop selling little league baseballs and basball bats. Every single bat could hit a ball in such a way that it could hurt or kill a person. Every ball could be hit or thrown in such a way, as well. An accident doesn’t make a retailer liable.

        With LL your argument means that unless they make hard plastic chest protectors, face masks, shin guards, and all other safety equipment mandatory they are liable for injuries.

        The case can be made that the bat was too “hot” (it most likely was), but I we can’t know that is the reason for this terrible accident.

    • GoneYickitty - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      It’s not at all true that companies are 100% liable for their product. That’s just stupid. If someone causes a tragedy with a gun, the courts have said time and again that the purchaser is responsible for the use of an item that is inherently dangerous.

      The real question here is whether or not baseball bats are inherently dangerous. If the answer is no, but there was something about this particular bat that was an exception, then the liability would be reasonable. If the answer is yes (to which anyone who has any real exposure to baseball would agree), the liability is imagined but companies are more likely to settle and pass the costs on the rest of us than to risk the PR hit.

      • Tim's Neighbor - Aug 22, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        GoneYickety, are you Atlanta? We need to discuss this over a beer. It’s much too complicated for this forum. I do respect that you disagree for rational reasons.

  17. landobuc - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Clearly Matt has a perfect life and all he cares about is flashy materials.

  18. jameschat24 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    I still don’t get why they would settle.

    I guess if I get hit by a car, I should sue the designer of the car, the manufacturer and the auto dealership that sold it.

    • number42is1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      that actually a reason that for a little while a bunch of yrs ago car companies stopped all leases. folks were suing the car companies. they have since changed it to make sure that they would not be held liable.

    • Tim's Neighbor - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      Automobiles and traffic accident are governed by a different standard and a different set of laws in the US.

  19. qcubed3 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    How in the world would Sports Authority be responsible here at all. If SA is responsible for the negligent use of any of its equipment, then they couldn’t possible sell anything whatsoever as anything could be used negligently. But, if it’s not mere negligence that was being claimed, but a duty to investigate the safety of the equipment, that would be even more ridiculous. What possible scenario could SA have investigated the use of this metal bat enough to have foreseeably determined that it could cause such an injury or not? If SA sold a wooden bat, and there was a defect that caused it to splinter, and one of those splinters injured the child, does SA then have a duty to investigate latent defects for every single wooden bat it sells? How would it even begin to do so?

    Perhaps SA just paid the nuisance fee, but given that this was 6 years ago, they would have racked up substantial legal fees.

    • seattlej - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      Knowing nothing more about this, I would guess that SA’s degree of fault here would be very minor. There probably not paying much more than a token amount of the total settlement.

  20. psousa1 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    This is a topic that is close to me. I am the first guy who sees red when some slob sues McDonalds because they’re an undisciplined slob but I am glad for the family. Wish they got more. If you don’t have experience with these bats – little league, high school, college, women’s softball and the biggest offender – men’s slow pitch softball these friggin bats are weapons. It is only a matter of time until someone is killed. If you ever saw a women’s college or even high school and little league and you see the pitcher and infielder wearing masks this is why. Louiville Slugger, Wilson, Rawlings. These used to be great manufacturers of gloves, wood bats and cleats. These places biggest income producer is bats and it’s not even close. It’s an arms build up. What company can come up with the most lethal bat on the market gets the biggest market share. Leagues are afraid to switch to wooden bats because parents/players complained they just doled out $350-$400 on a friggin bat. They are going to wait for a tragedy instead. Coaching 7-8 year olds I have seen kids hit the ball almost 200 feet. I still play old man softball and these balls are routinely traveling 80-90 mph through the infield

    • GoneYickitty - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      My kids play in both regular leagues and wood bat leagues. I spend more on wood bats than non-wood bats. Wood breaks. The manufacturers would love everyone to use wood. There is just as much margin and they would sell more of them …. a lot more of them. Basically, your conspiracy theory is stupid.

      At higher levels of play wood is becoming increasingly popular because of the old-school aspect and it just frankly sounds great. However, even wealthier club teams only play a few of these tournaments a year because people bitch about having to spend a bunch of money on bats. (If pitchers suck you won’t see this, but good pitching will break quite a few even at as low of a level as 12U.)

  21. Walk - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Maybe i am reading this wrong but first it says he was struck while pitching in a police athletic league , later it says he was not playing in a little league game. What is a policle athletic league game and how is it different from a little league game? How was this lawsuit allowed if he was not playing in a little league game? I feel sorry for the young man but i am confused because i must be missing some facts. Allowing the chain that sold the bat to be sued is worse. What is next, are we going to sue auto manufacturers for acidents because they made the cars involved?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      The PAL is sanctioned by LL.

      As for the suing, again it’s possible that the manufacturers, and subsequently Sports Authority, coudl be held as negligent if they knew the product they were making was inherently dangerous beyond a normal usage.

      A wooden bat is an acceptable use. An aluminum bat that turns every hard ball into a racket ball due to physics, would be negligent.

  22. uyf1950 - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    What happened to the young man who was a boy at the time is very sad and suits like this are a product of our society and our legal system. But the last comment by Matthew and I quote “Still, one imagines there will be enough left over for shiny new cars and island getaways for the family and lawyers.” Especially in reference to the family was cruel, heartless and completely uncalled for. And in this posters very humble opinion Matthew should be sanctioned for that part of the comment be it by Craig or whoever. Matthew I think you should take a few days off. That’s just my opinion.

    • Alex K - Aug 22, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      If nothing else I think an apology is in order. The last line was totally uncalled for. Very unprofessional and it makes me sad that someone from a website I really enjoy would wrie such a thing.

  23. seattlej - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    What a cynical, and frankly, shitty, thing to say. That last line smacks of nothing more than an inflammatory statement inserted at the end of an otherwise informative (though certainly lacking) article, for no other reason than to generate views and comments. This seems like a tactic more suited for Fox News than this blog.

    You’re a decent enough writer, but you should probably stay away from the assinine, snarky comments. Stick to informing your readership instead of making ill informed Akin-like comments about subjects that I’m guessing you know little to nothing about.

  24. umakenosense - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    The real issue is these kids are bigger, stronger and faster than we were as kids. The field is still the same size and little league changed the age cut off and club ball followed. Just to keep these kids down an extra year. Kids pitch from 46 feet away from home plate. By the time he releases the ball he is probably 42 feet or less from home plate. I don’t care what bat you use if you connect in the sweet spot the pitcher has no time to react.

  25. theotherfamousamos - Aug 22, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I’m a lawyer. Someone asked if someone with a law background would chip in and explain.

    I haven’t seen any of the pleadings but generally the reason why the seller, manufacturer and the “sanctioning entity” (Little League in this case) are all lumped in together is probably that they were alleged to have known that they were selling a dangerous instrumentality. What’s a dangerous instrumentality? An instrument that can cause harm, such as, for instance, the damage done to Steven Domalewski. Most likely the plaintiffs’ attorneys put together scientific expert reports showing that the speed with which the ball leaves this type of bat leaves a child physically unable to avoid a devastating injury of this nature.

    Go ahead and blame the lawyers. We can take it because everyone likes to rip our profession until they need a lawyer. We also don’t make the laws. But seriously, if the family didn’t have lawyers to vigorously pursue the case for the last six years, the defendants wouldn’t have paid anything. So if you want to call this a settlement of $8.7 million after the lawyers take their well earned fees, that still ought to be enough for Steven’s life care plan. By the way, although I have no knowledge of the facts here, you can be virtually certain that this settlement was covered, at least partially, by each defendants’ insurance policy, as is standard in many of these cases.

    • GoneYickitty - Aug 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      So it is reasonable that the kid’s parents were too stupid to know that something swinging a bat made of anything hard from forty feet away was inherently dangerous? Nobody disagrees that it is dangerous, which is exactly the point. Is there anything you can but in any sports store that isn’t potentially dangerous? So why should you be able to get millions when you did something that any reasonable person would realize entails the risk of severe injury?

      And generally, I don’t think lawyers tend to understand the concept of insurance. Basically, when insurance pays out, that means we all pay. It’s not actually free money.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 22, 2012 at 7:10 PM

        So it is reasonable that the kid’s parents were too stupid to know that something swinging a bat made of anything hard from forty feet away was inherently dangerous?

        Of course it’s dangerous, and everyone knows it. But what if, the combination of stronger, faster kids AND ever increasing technology made it so that balls coming off today’s technology fueled equipment were so fast, that kids couldn’t react in time? What then?

        And generally, I don’t think lawyers tend to understand the concept of insurance. Basically, when insurance pays out, that means we all pay. It’s not actually free money.

        You really think it’s the lawyers that don’t understand who foots the bill for this stuff? Lawyers don’t bring these cases to court by themselves, people need to find lawyers to sue as the lawyers don’t have standing. Every time someone sues a large company for negligence, like this, and says who cares as insurance will cover, they don’t understand who ultimately pays for all this. It’s not the lawyers’ fault.

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