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Yankees Safe in Foul Ball Accident (NY)

November 9, 2017

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Yankees fans will recall a scary incident in late September where a young child was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium.  Although there has been no word whether the family will sue the Yankees, a recent appellate decision may impact the issue.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2017/2017_07410.htm">Zlotnick v. New York Yankees Partnership</a>, </em>plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the Yankees for injuries sustained when he was struck in the eye by a foul ball as he was sitting in his seat halfway down the first-base line, a few rows from the field. The Supreme Court granted the Yankees’ motion for summary judgment and plaintiff appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The First Department upheld the lower court’s decision and ruled the Yankees did not breach a duty of care, since the evidence showed that appropriate netting was erected behind home plate (which is essentially the limit of what a stadium is required to do to meet the duty of "reasonable care") and there was no evidence indicating that there was a lack of available seating in this protected area.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Court rejected plaintiff's argument that the defendants' conduct enhanced the risks normally attendant to the game of baseball because the game was played in  rainy weather, and that the Yankees did not enforce the stadium's policy against the use of umbrellas that obstruct the ability of other patrons to view the game, because rainy weather and umbrellas are not uncommon at baseball games.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In addition, the Court pointed to the warnings about foul balls on the back of plaintiff's ticket, on the back of the seats, as well as those regularly made over the public address system, which called upon plaintiff to request a change of seating if plaintiff was worried about being struck by a foul ball.</p>
Thanks to Paul Vitale for his contribution to this post and please write to <a href="mailto: mbono@wcmlaw.com">Mike Bono</a> with any questions.

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