Our South Carolina Injury lawyers know that determining a duty of care in premises liability cases depends on the status of the injured party at the time of the accident. A concise explanation of the law in South Carolina can be found in the case of Sims V. Giles.
S. Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus, an Indiana Supreme Court case, addressed whether a baseball team owed a duty of care to protect fans from being hit by baseballs in the context of a negligence case.
In S. Shore Baseball, a minor league baseball fan attended the team’s opening day home game with tickets she acquired from a friend. The back of the tickets contained the standard boilerplate warning that excused team owners from any and all personal injury and property damage and also stated that the ticket was not transferable. This warning included language that the team owners were not responsible for any damage or injury caused by thrown or batted balls.
As she and her fiancé walked down to their seats, they passed a sign which warned of objects leaving the playing field. The second batter of the game hit a foul ball back into the stands. Upon hearing the crack of the bat, the victim looked up to see where the ball was going. It hit her in the face, causing serious injury, including broken facial bones and permanent blindness in one eye.
After the injury, she sued the team owner, alleging the team was negligent in not making the stadium sufficiently safe for her to enjoy the game. She alleged that the team had failed to extend the safety netting behind home plate in order to make her safe from flying balls. She also alleged that they the team owners had failed to warn her of a known danger.
The appeals court, treating this as a premises liability case, looked at the whether the team owners should have known that fans would fail to realize the danger of being hit by a foul ball and whether the risk of being hit by a foul ball was an unreasonable risk for attendees to a professional baseball game. The court concluded that there was no evidence to establish either of these elements and determined that the team did not owe fans a duty to protect them from foul balls beyond putting the protective netting at the most dangerous part of the park (behind home plate) and displaying signs warning fans of objects leaving the field.
This case essentially deals with the affirmative defense of assumption of risk, which follows closely with lacking a duty of care to protect foreseeable persons from foreseeable harm. Sometimes people engage in activities that they know involve a certain degree of risk. For example, if you participate in car race, you are assuming the risk that you could be injured in a crash. While sitting close to the field at a baseball game is not as risky as an auto race, fans are assuming the risk that a baseball, or even a broken bat, may hit them. The fact that the stadium puts up signs warning of such a risk and uses protective netting behind home plate is sufficient.
If you have been injured in South Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices in Winston-Salem at 800-887-1965.
S. Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus, June 27, 2014, Indiana Supreme Court
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