A panel of the Georgia Court of Appeals on Tuesday tested the Atlanta Braves’ argument that the team should be insulated from suits by fans hit by flying bats or balls.
The Braves’ lawyer, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, said the appeals court should adopt the so-called “baseball rule,” which says teams are immune if they provide enough seats behind home plate shielded by a net to meet demand.
Hearing the case with two colleagues, Judge Michael Boggs wondered why the baseball industry should get its own rule. “The concern being, of course, if you carve out a rule for baseball, if we adopt the baseball rule, next week we’ll be adopting the hockey rule, and the week after that we’ll be adopting another rule,” he said.
The case was filed against the Braves by a parent of a 6-year-old girl who was hit by a foul ball while attending a game at Turner Field in 2010. A Fulton County judge has refused to dismiss the case.
Backed by the commissioner of Major League Baseball, the Braves say the baseball rule is used in the majority of states that have adopted a rule around errant balls and bats at baseball venues.
On Tuesday, Sears told the judges that the Braves need to know exactly what their duties to spectators are. “The baseball rule is a clear rule,” she said, “and, quite frankly, its clarity is its virtue.”
Arguing for the girl and her family, Atlanta lawyer E. Michael Moran of Law & Moran said it didn’t make sense to adopt a rule created for baseball in another jurisdiction about 100 years ago. “The game has changed,” he said, noting high rates of speed of balls hit by players today. … Read More