Jury Awards $850,000 in Wrongful Death Suit against Baseball Bat Manufacturer

Game Three of the World Series is this weekend, and at least one family is glad that Major League Baseball players are still using traditional wooden baseball bats instead of metal bats.

The New York Times reports that a Montana jury has awarded $850,000 to the family of a teenager who was killed in a 2003 baseball game. Brandon Patch, 18, was pitching when he was hit in the head with a fatal line drive. The family argued that aluminum baseball bats are dangerous because they allow the ball to travel at higher speeds than wooden bats and that the Louisville Slugger baseball bat company failed to adequately warn about this danger. Even the family was surprised that they won the case.

“We never expected it,” said Patch’s mother Debbie Patch, who was stunned by the verdict. “We just hoped we could get the truth out for more people to see.”

She hopes that the verdict will raise awareness about the dangers associated with aluminum bats, and she would like to see youth leagues switch to wooden bats.

“We just want to save someone else’s life,” she said.

A Lewis and Clark County District Court jury awarded a total of $850,000 in damages against the Louisville-based company Hillerich and Bradsby, makers of Louisville Slugger bats, for failing to place adequate warnings on the product.

Attorneys for the baseball bat manufacturer did not comment about the verdict. During the trial, they argued that accidents happen in baseball games, and there’s nothing inherently unsafe about aluminum bats. The same accident could have occurred with a wooden bat. A spokesman for Louisville Slugger said yesterday that the verdict “appears to be an indictment of the entire sport of baseball.”

Spokesman Rick Redman said, “We made a bat in accordance with the rules. The bat was approved for play by baseball’s organizing and governing organizations.”

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has started a program called “Don’t Take My Bat Away.” They say that Patch’s death was tragic, but a wooden bat could have caused the death, too.

The jury arrived at the award total by tallying $792,000 for lost earnings and pain and suffering, plus $58,000 for the family’s pain and suffering.

In the verdict, the jury indicated that the bat was not a defective product. Rather, the jury found that it posed a threat without an adequate warning label. The Patch family attorney doesn’t expect the verdict to alter the use of aluminum baseball bats, but the said that it could lead to a strong movement advocating the use of wooden bats for youth baseball players.

While professional baseball players still use wooden bats, youth baseball players have been using metal bats since the 1970s. Some amateur teams have switched to wooden bats in recent years.

Debbie Patch wants all amateur teams to switch to wooden bats: “We should go back to the way baseball is supposed to be played, the way professional baseball is played.”

Brandon Patch was pitching in an American Legion baseball game when a line drive hit him in the head. It bounced off his head and traveled approximately 50 feet in the air. Patch went into convulsions after the traumatic brain injury. The crowd at the game was horrified. Patch died within hours of the injury.

Another lawsuit against the same baseball bat company is pending in a New Jersey Superior Court. In this case, a 12-year-old boy suffered a traumatic brain injury and permanent brain damage after being hit in the head with a line drive off an aluminum bat. In 2002, the parents of another teenage pitcher were awarded damages against Hillerich and Bradsby after their son was hit in the head with a line drive, suffering severe brain injuries.

If you need to Georgia wrongful death attorney or Georgia brain injury attorney, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.