FanDuel - WFBC

October 30, 2009

Aluminum Bat Maker Liable in Baseball Player's Death: The manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats, Hillerich & Bradsby, has been ordered to pay $792,000 in a product liability lawsuit to the estate of Brandon Patch, an 18-year-old American Legion pitcher killed in 2006 when struck in the temple by a batted ball hit by an aluminum bat. The jury found that the company failed to warn users of the danger of its aluminum bats, which strike balls 8 mph faster than wooden ones, according to physicist Daniel A. Russell. The Patches believe aluminum bats should be banned. "We should go back to the way baseball is supposed to be played," said Debbie Patch.

posted by rcade to baseball at 10:59 AM - 56 comments

This is one of the dumbest lawsuit wins I have ever seen. The fact that the parents won this shows just how crazy the United States is. Why not blame it on the ball being to hard while you are at it..

posted by Debo270 at 11:24 AM on October 30

"We should go back to the way baseball is supposed to be played"

You'll be going back to the way it was before baseball was invented in some communities since the expense of replacing wooden bats is why they moved to wooden. I'm sorry for your loss, but it's not a harbinger of doom.

posted by yerfatma at 11:32 AM on October 30

While I hope everyone goes back to wood bats, I really don't like this decision. The're punishing the bat company for making an effective product. Why didn't they file suit against the league for having a rule book that allows metal, that would bring about more change than suing the bat makers.

posted by tron7 at 11:35 AM on October 30

What's the difference in 8 mph? If a ball hits your temple or strikes you chest, the damage will be the same whether it hits at X speed or X+8 speed. The danger would be the same whether it's a medal/composite bat or wood. Further, consider all the games which have been played with aluminum bats since they came out in the '70s. The number of such cases is miniscule.

posted by jjzucal at 11:39 AM on October 30

The death of the young man is a tragic accident. I stress the word accident. This could just as easily have happened with a wood bat. Anyone on or near a baseball field is in the line of fire and should consider that before they place themselves in that environement. I coach baseball in wood bat only leagues and in 'normal' leagues' where high tech bats are allowed. I prefer wood bats because the ball doesn't fly as fast or as hard, which makes for a more pure game, in my opinion. More infield play with more emphasis on good pitching and defense. This results in improved skills for the players.

This ruling illustrates that our legal system is broken. I cannot understand what this jury could be thinking. Failing to warn the user of the danger of a bat is like failing to state that you will get wet when you walk outside in a rainstorm. If H&B had issued a warning, would the outcome have been any different? Let's imagine this situation. Kid comes up to bat. Umpire or coach or parent stops the game and tells everyone that the bat about to be used will result in a hit that is 8mph faster. Coach of the team in the field take his players off the field because he doesn't feel they are safe, or player is forced to use a different bat. Ever been to a baseball game? This is nonsense. I am assuming that the bat is legal for use in this particular league. If so, then the parents and player should have read the rules regarding bats and declined to participate.

posted by lab at 11:42 AM on October 30

Awesome. This is way better than the McDonalds coffee lawsuit (that I think rcade shared some interesting insight into a couple weeks ago).
I find myself in a situation where, if I had known about this kid's tragic death, I would've had extreme sorrow for his family ... until they brought the suit against the bat company. Being a semi-recent first-time dad, I don't like spending even 1 second thinking about what life would be after losing a child, but this is vindictive, frivolous, misguided, evil profitization (ugh, totally blanking on the word I want to use "to unnecessarily take advantage of misfortune)

If they would've proven that the bat was outside of standards and the bat company was either knowledgeable or negligent about that, then I'd have a different opinion and would commend them on their legal victory. But, I'm currently deciding which/who is worse - the initiation of the lawsuit, the 8-12 numbskulls that awarded this, or a legal system that could allow such a joke to even make it to a courtroom (the latter is hard to hold blame but ... well, again, UGH)

(if I typed faster, I wouldn't have simply been repeating what lab said, oh well ... but I'll be damned if I'm deleting it now!)

posted by littleLebowski at 11:50 AM on October 30

Aluminum bats are more dangerous than wooden ones, and they seem to be getting more dangerous over time with improvements in their manufacture. In Japan, seven high school players have died after being hit with balls off aluminum bats since they were introduced in 1974, according to a reprinted story from the Charlotte News & Observer.

I don't think there's anything frivolous about this lawsuit. Jack MacKay, a bat designer for Hillerich & Bradsby for 13 years, resigned in 1997 because he felt they have become too dangerous. He's lobbied for a ban on aluminum bats that "exceed wood standards" and shared internal memos that show companies have ignored the risks. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what we did was wrong," McKay said.

This is way better than the McDonalds coffee lawsuit ...

I don't get your reference since you consider this suit frivolous. Though it is widely characterized as a bogus lawsuit, the facts of the McDonald's lawsuit show otherwise.

posted by rcade at 12:01 PM on October 30

If a ball hits your temple or strikes you chest, the damage will be the same whether it hits at X speed or X+8 speed.

You, uh, skipped physics class, didn't you?

posted by dfleming at 12:11 PM on October 30

What's the difference in 8 mph? If a ball hits your temple or strikes you chest, the damage will be the same whether it hits at X speed or X+8 speed. The danger would be the same whether it's a medal/composite bat or wood.

Uh, no. That whole conservation of momentum thing says that as velocity increases, so to does momentum. Thus, when something strikes a human head, as momentum goes up, so to do does the potential damage. I'm not a physicist and am not sure how much 8 mph will make a difference, but to say it does not matter is flat out wrong.

posted by jmd82 at 12:13 PM on October 30

You're referencing the same McDonalds-related link I gave you credit for in my first post. I referenced the McDonalds case because right or wrong and irrespective of your personal opinion and conclusion of the facts presented in your article - the McDonalds case is often held up as the epitomy of frivolous lawsuits.

The topic of aluminum bat safety is absolutely NOT frivolous ... but a lawsuit (and judgement) against a single bat manufacturer are, at least in my opinion. From the information at hand, the batmaker did nothing illegal, outside of published standards and did not participate in any kind of cover-up regarding misdeeds, misinformation or the issues in play. I definitely don't question the validity and need for review of aluminum bats at every level of play. But, the quote by the mother "We just hoped we could get the truth out for more people to see." got my blood particularly boiling. Your boy is playing ball at the Legion level, so presumably for pushing 10 years and you're justifying a lawsuit against a single bat manufacturer by claiming that folks don't know that balls are hit hard sometimes? This just comes across as a horribly-enabled ploy of (at best) "well, somebody should pay for my boy bein' dead".

So, the family of someone who tragically dies when a ball hit from a wood bat hits their child has the right to sue because 1) a ball hit off of a wood bat is significantly more dangerous than a ball hit off a Nerf bat and 2) we actually didn't know that, so someone from the wood bat company should've been at the field passing out fliers or should've put a label on the bat.

I'm not minimizing the tragedy here or the need for review of safety standards, but a lawsuit is supposed to penalize someone of wrongdoing. I'm honestly shocked any regular member of this site sees the legitimacy of this lawsuit. But, we've all got our opinions.

posted by littleLebowski at 12:26 PM on October 30

and when I say I'm surprised that someone has a different opinion ... I'm simply truly surprised about this one ... that's NOT me passing judgement on what anyone should believe or their level of intelligence

posted by littleLebowski at 12:31 PM on October 30

because right or wrong and irrespective of your personal opinion and conclusion of the facts presented in your article - the McDonalds case is often held up as the epitomy of frivolous lawsuits.

Just so we're clear: in spite of all evidence to the contrary, because a large number of uninformed people think something is so, it's so.

Alfred Dreyfus wept.

posted by yerfatma at 12:33 PM on October 30

If the Patches believe that aluminum bats are excessively dangerous and should be banned, filing suit was an effective way for them to pursue that goal. You can argue that they are wrong about bats and this death was a foreseeable risk of the game accepted by the player, but I don't see how the mere filing of the suit was improper. The jury agreed with them, and now the entire bat industry has to assess whether it's doing enough to avoid similar litigation.

I referenced the McDonalds case because right or wrong and irrespective of your personal opinion and conclusion of the facts presented in your article - the McDonalds case is often held up as the epitomy of frivolous lawsuits.

That seems like really bad debate strategy to me. The McDonald's case completely undercuts any argument against frivolous lawsuits.

posted by rcade at 12:36 PM on October 30

There is no common sense in this or the McDonald's lawsuits. Everyone who plays baseball knows the ball comes off of the aluminum bat faster than a wooden bat. These same players know there is a risk of being hit with a batted ball. I'm sure if a player wasn't comfortable with the situation, they wouldn't play. By playing, they are taking responsability for what might happen.

The parents should ashamed of themselves for taking this to court and the Judge should be even more ashamed for the decision. Why didn't the parents sue the batter for swinging too hard? Sue the baseball manufacturer because the ball was too hard while you're at it.

If the batter has to wear a batting helmet why can't a pitcher wear one as well? Is this a cure, probably not but a helmet might have saved this kids life.

As far as McDonald's goes, coffee is hot and we all know it. Temperature is an after thought when we buy coffee. We know it is hot and putting it between your knees while the car is moving is asking for trouble.

McDonald's and Louisville Slugger got screwed.

posted by dbt302 at 12:39 PM on October 30

Common sense would suggest that if you've received 700 claims by people burned by your coffee, it's time to stop serving it 45 to 50 degrees hotter than everybody else. And if you can't do that, you should pay $20,000 to the elderly woman who needed genital debridement for her burns -- that's all she asked for in a settlement -- instead of risking a jury trial and the possibility of punitive damages.

posted by rcade at 12:47 PM on October 30

fair enough, rcade As I said in my original post, I'm not sure which set of folks I was more angry with, the plaintiff or the jury. The jury is up there. It shouldn't take a lawsuit for this kind of safety assessment to take place - should've happened before now or, at minimum, immediately after this kid's death before even the threat of a lawsuit. Regardless, I still contend that the ends don't justify the means here - there was no legal wrongdoing by the batmaker, so punishing them to hopefully enact review at an industry level is still "misguided" in my book.

cripes, can we give the McDonalds thing a rest? I'm truly sorry I brought it up. Delete it, please! It was NOT a "debate strategy". It was mild, admittedly slightly questionable, but recognizable lead-in to a much more important conversation. Man, sometimes, this site (myself included) has the ability, equivalent to my 18-month old, to focus on the bigger picture.

posted by littleLebowski at 01:03 PM on October 30

and now the entire bat industry has to assess whether it's doing enough to avoid similar litigation.

And that result is what is precisely wrong with lawsuits of this nature...

It's not just the bat industry. This is a bigger problem than baseball bats. We are all paying the price for this nonsense. And it is nonsense.

posted by lab at 01:07 PM on October 30

The jury agreed with them, and now the entire bat industry has to assess whether it's doing enough to avoid similar litigation.

Competetion dictates that they will not stop making bats that hit balls faster because that is what the consumer wants. This is why I think it's a bad strategy to go after the bat company, they have little incentive to make things safer even with this lawsuit. All this means is that they'll put warnings on the product, which doesn't make anything safer. This lawsuit won't solve anything.

posted by tron7 at 01:08 PM on October 30

The jury agreed with them, and now the entire bat industry has to assess whether it's doing enough to avoid similar litigation.

And, Alfred Dreyfus wept again.

posted by littleLebowski at 01:14 PM on October 30

Competetion dictates that they will not stop making bats that hit balls faster because that is what the consumer wants.

True. So let's assume there's a speed limit for safely batted balls, and if bats are improved until they pass that limit, the injuries and deaths would increase until it became a public safety concern.

What are the solutions to that problem, and how would the anti-lawsuit people achieve that solution?

Dreyfus is such a crybaby.

posted by rcade at 01:17 PM on October 30

and now the entire bat industry has to assess whether it's doing enough to avoid similar litigation.

And that result is what is precisely wrong with lawsuits of this nature

That's exactly what is right about this lawsuit. Lawsuits stop dangerous behavior that the government doesn't stop. McDonalds stopped selling coffee that would give third degree burns. Products list all the warnings on their packaging. We are safer because of lawsuits like this.

Everyone who plays baseball knows the ball comes off of the aluminum bat faster than a wooden bat.

The jury disagreed that the dangers of aluminum bats were common knowledge. The manufacturer lost because they failed to properly warn about the dangers of their bats.

I don't understand why they don't design metal bats to slow the ball off the bat. It isn't a necessary part of metal bats that the ball comes off the bat so fast.

posted by bperk at 01:20 PM on October 30

So let's assume there's a speed limit for safely batted balls, and if bats are improved until they pass that limit, the injuries and deaths would increase until it became a public safety concern.

With all due respect - that's on hell of an assumption! A speed limit for safely batted balls? The speed doesn't just come from the bat, it's the guy swinging it. If a genetically gifted player starts hitting the ball past the assumed limit, what will we do with him - put him in jail?

posted by lab at 01:21 PM on October 30

While I agree that aluminum bats are more dangerous than wooden bats, why go after the manufacturer?

Why not sue the American Legion for allowing the players to use aluminum bats, or the Helena Senators for using the bats or even Patch's own team for allowing them to play when these bats are being used?

To answer my own question. Because Louisville Slugger are the deep pockets.

While I wouldn't the lawsuit frivolous, I would call it misguided.

posted by cjets at 01:27 PM on October 30

Products list all the warnings on their packaging. We are safer because of lawsuits like this.

Bats have bat speed ratings printed on them. The information is on the product for those that care to read it and understand it. Are baseball players safer due to this? Nope. Do players need to have their safety protected by the courts? Nope

I don't understand why they don't design metal bats to slow the ball off the bat. It isn't a necessary part of metal bats that the ball comes off the bat so fast.
You don't really want to this question answered do you?

I don't have proof of this, but I'll bet the kid who was killed had an aluminum or composite bat in his bag that day. And it surely wasn't designed to hit the ball with less velocity.

Also, wood bats break, fly into the field and cause serious unjuries as well. I wonder which type of bat is actually safer? I should find a lawyer and have baseball banned for the safety of us all. Wonder how much money I could make from that? I'm nervous that a ball, that has exceeded the safety limit, might fly through my office window at any moment.

posted by lab at 01:28 PM on October 30

What are the solutions to that problem, and how would the anti-lawsuit people achieve that solution?

Great question. Ideally, as I hinted at before, it's in the hands of the key parties involved :
BAT COMPANIES - collusion in this instance would be a good thing ... "look, ALL of our bats are dangerous, let's agree to scale them back" ... or even just have 1 bat company stand out and take this path - could be a gamble competitively, but could it possibly induce the public to "reward" that company with purchases and then other bat companies would be inclined to follow. But, there's obviously a marketplace competitiveness issue here.

LEAGUES - Creating stricter guidelines for what equipment can be used. But, if the league ends up being comparatively "dull" compared to a neighboring league, has the "moral" league just shot itself in the foot by losing members to other leagues?

(god forbid) GOVERNMENT - I agree that Congress can multitask and can take on more than just healthcare and wars. But, if a review of the BCS or steroids is justified, isn't this a worthy cause? Wouldn't a consistent set of guidelines at a higher level relieve the competitiveness concerns of companies and leagues?

But, that's an IDEAL state. Maybe a lawsuit ends up being the most direct route to a solution. But, I still think the target of the lawsuit is incorrect, here. And, maybe just the threat of a lawsuit could make one of the above "ideal" things get rolling?

bperk, I see your point about the potential for some lawsuits leading to us to be safer. And, I'm less surprised that there's disagreement on this issue than I was a few minutes ago (some interesting comments). But I think labels on bats or coffee cups have absolutely zero impact to the end result. Is a kind/parent buying a bat going to see the label on the first bat they pick up and say "Um, let's find a different bat." - then when they see the label on every bat thereafter - are they going to decide to play a different sport?
This still goes back to the fact that I believe a lawsuit should hold someone responsible for actual criminal wrongdoing. I think there's a fix to this without unfairly punishing a company that was following the rules (ie, go after the rulemakers).

posted by littleLebowski at 01:43 PM on October 30

There's another complicating factor here in that News & Observer story I linked. At least 150 college coaches have team and personal contracts with bat manufacturers of $20,000 or more. That's a legal target as well.

With all due respect - that's on hell of an assumption! A speed limit for safely batted balls?

You misunderstood the point of my remark. I am not advocating a speed limit. I am saying that it's simple logic to assume that if batted-ball speeds continue to increase, there will come a point at which the injuries and deaths become a public safety concern.

posted by rcade at 01:52 PM on October 30

You misunderstood the point of my remark. I am not advocating a speed limit. I am saying that it's simple logic to assume that if batted-ball speeds continue to increase, there will come a point at which the injuries and deaths become a public safety concern, so a solution would need to come from somewhere.

I think I did understand your point. I just didn't agree with it. My point is why do we need a social solution to a simple problem? Off the top of my head, I would suggest that we make the field larger. The increased distance would give everyone more reaction time to deal with hard hit balls. Look how far back infielders are playing these days - many times they are in the outfield. This never used to be the case. It's because batted ball velocities have increased on average and they need more time to make a play. Sadly for the pitcher, he can't back up until they move the mound.

posted by lab at 02:02 PM on October 30

I think I did understand your point. I just didn't agree with it.

I guess I'm not conveying the idea properly. I assume that there is a point at which batted balls could be hit so fast off a constantly improving aluminum bat that the resulting injuries and deaths would be so high that the public could not ignore it, and would demand a solution.

I'm not arguing we're past that point or near it, just that in theory that point exists.

So if you're playing along with that premise, how would you solve it?

posted by rcade at 02:15 PM on October 30

Why aren't we suing and/ or arresting these kids? They're the ones hitting the balls.

posted by yerfatma at 02:28 PM on October 30

The USGA might have a fix that bat manufacturers can use.

From Wikipedia:

The coefficient of restitution entered the common vocabulary, among golfers at least, when golf club manufacturers began making thin-faced drivers with a so-called "trampoline effect" that creates drives of a greater distance as a result of an extra bounce off the clubface. The USGA (America's governing golfing body) has started testing drivers for COR and has placed the upper limit at 0.83.

Just saying, COR limits for both balls and bats should maybe be adopted.

Fielding your position a lil better might not hurt, either.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:39 PM on October 30

I guess I'm not conveying the idea properly.

It's probably my inablility to conceive of the situation that you propose. There has been alot of study and analysis done on the physics of a baseball bat hitting a ball. I think batmakers are already approaching the limit of what can be achieved by building an object that cannot supply power on its own. It really is coming down to 1/2 x mass x velocity^2. The other part is the elasticity of the collision. This is what the batmakers are optimizing, since the other parameters are due to the human swinging the bat. I guess my engineering mind is limiting my ability to understand such an abstract proposition.

I guess I am unable to play along with that premise. What would I do? Make the field bigger. How unsatisfying is that?

posted by lab at 02:42 PM on October 30

But I think labels on bats or coffee cups have absolutely zero impact to the end result.

I think labels matter. Labels also changes the way manufacturers approach different things. A product manufacturer for something for kids doesn't want to put scary labels on it, so they just change the product. When products were required to put labels that a product contained lead, they just took the lead out of them. That is progress.

This still goes back to the fact that I believe a lawsuit should hold someone responsible for actual criminal wrongdoing.

Laws on consumer protection are incredibly limited, and enforcement of the laws are even more limited. Companies are as honest as they are because the ramifications of lawsuits could destroy their business. Litigation is the only thing that stopped manufacturers from using asbestos. They knew about the risks for more than 40 years, but disregarded it. Then, it started costing them money. That is when the industry changed.

posted by bperk at 02:45 PM on October 30

Why aren't we suing and/ or arresting these kids? They're the ones hitting the balls.

Ha! I was thinking the same thing as I was reading all of this. Is there a point when someone decides that the big 12 year old who hit the ball or tackled the kid too big to be playing with kids who could not compete with his physical advantage? I mean, I know it sounds completely ridiculous, and I am in no way saying that the parents of the deceased boy are being frivolous or taking advantage of their circumstances, but on the other hand some of these lawsuits make me think that it may be a slippery slope upon which they tread.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:45 PM on October 30

Aluminum bats replaced wooden bats because of the cost of broken bats. If aluminum bats can't be changed, like a thicker walled bat to change the trampoline affect, so that the speed of the batted ball is the same as if it were hit by a wooden bat, then change the ball. If some kids like wood and others like aluminum, then make it the responsibilty of the league to have two different balls for play at each game. Make the balls different colors so that they can't be mixed up.

posted by Shotput at 03:00 PM on October 30

This reminds me: When I was watching the LSU game last weekend, their helmets all had one of those "Caution! Brain damage possible!!!" And at first I was like, "no shit, Sherlock, it's football." And then I realized it's exactly because of lawsuits like that that unless potential harm is explicitly stated, you leave yourself open to liability.

posted by jmd82 at 03:33 PM on October 30

I also think this is stupid. In a freak accident even a line drive from a wood bat can kill someone.

In the year 2012 All future hall of famer Nolan Ryan types must wear a warning jersey stating "this pitcher throws really fast and at least 8 mph faster than the average pitcher"

All not so great fielders must wear a warning jersey stating "this fielder ain't so great, do not hit ball hard in this direction"

Speed limit signs as runners leave the batters box that state " in the event of an accidental collision, running as fast as you can can possibly cause injury to your self or others. Please watch your speed. Do not exceed 8 mph."

AND of course all kittens sold at pet stores will come with a very stern warning " putting this cat in a microwave oven can cause serious injury or death to the animal. In the event of accidental cat in microwave, use caution and wear eye protection when removing cat as it may explode in your stupid freaking face. Dial 1-800-stupidumbass immediately for assistance.

posted by Atheist at 03:36 PM on October 30

A few facts to keep in mind.

First, none of us were in the courtroom to hear the testamony and arguments. We might well have agreed with the jury in that case. Remember the comment earlier about the fellow who quit designing high performance bats because he knew they were unreasonably dangerous.

Second, in High School and College baseball, the bats must meet a Bat Speed Exit Ration (BESR) standard. That limits the performance of the bat construction.

In addition, at least high school limits the weight ration to a -3. That is, the bat must weigh no less, numerically, in ounces than the length in inches -3. On the other hand, some high performance bats come with as high as a -9. This allows a batter to generate significantly greater bat speed, hence greater speed on a batted ball. This same effect is what pro players are after when they cork their bats: the bat is lighter over the same length so they get the same leverage but higher bat speed and batted balls travel farther. This limitation is also aimed at the safety of the players, as well as keeping the competition closer to what it would be with wooden bats.

This incident happened in a Legion game, which is a significantly under-reported fact in this story. The governing body will likely adopt bat restrictions after this, if it has not already.

Third, it is said that aluminum bats replaced wooden bats because of the cost of broken bats. This may have been true in the beginning, but parents and players are now spending well over $300 per bat for some of these highly juiced models in order to gain an advantage. The cost savings is gone due to the arms race.

What difference does 8 mph make. Well, a good estimate is that a baseball in flight loses 1 mph for every 7 feet it travels. That means a ball leaving the bat at the optimum angle and 8 mph faster will travel 56 feet through the air before it slows to the speed it would have had. That is roughly the distance from the batter to the pitcher after the pitch is delivered.

That 8 mph faster and/ or increased distance in the air will get more hits and more balls sailing over the outfielders' heads. And it will hurt a lot more if someone gets hit by it. Somehow the conservation of energy comes into play here, and energy transfer is a square function, so the increased impact is greater than if you simply went on momentum, which is a linear function.

Media coverage will always be lacking in details if for no other reason than the reporters cannot be familiar with every subject, so some good questions are never answered in the press. But if the BESR, trampoline effect and bat weight data were reported, it is my suspicion that this is not a verdict against metal bats per se, but against the high performance bats that truly are dangerous on the field.

posted by Justus at 04:07 PM on October 30

What are the solutions to that problem, and how would the anti-lawsuit people achieve that solution?

I think the goal should be to get back to wood bats where there's a limit to how powerful you can make them. I think the way to do that would be to file suit against the leagues. Maybe there's another way to get leagues to switch but I'm not sure what that would be.

Metal bats were created as a cheaper alternative to wood but I think we're well past that as metal bats have so much tech in them that they are no longer a cheap option. Not to mention metal bats are good for one season and then they are done due to losing pop or just losing the tech war with next year's new alloy. If price is still an issue, composite bats last about as long as today's metal at a slightly cheaper price tag.

posted by tron7 at 04:15 PM on October 30

This incident happened in a Legion game, which is a significantly under-reported fact in this story. The governing body will likely adopt bat restrictions after this, if it has not already.

I used to play American Legion ball and we had to use 3 drops at the time so they already have some restriction. I think whatever restrictions you add the bat companys will continue to push the envelope because that's their job.

posted by tron7 at 04:19 PM on October 30

Justus, you posted exactly what I was about to say. Here's the quote from the NHFS (National Federation of High Schools) regarding bats:

2001
Bat standard was modified effective January 1, 2003, that all non-wood bats must meet BESR standards, which includes the diameter shall be 2 5/8 inches or less and shall not weigh more than three ounces less than the length of the bat, the maximum ball exit speed shall not exceed 97 miles per hour and the bat must meet the moment-of-inertia requirement.

In addition, the NHFS will expand their bat rule to make it the same as the NCAA rule that applies the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard to non-wooden bats. Here is an explanation of the measurements. Note that the rules changes will not apply until the 2011 season.

If the lawsuit were entered against the parties truly at fault, it would have included the league (for allowing the use of dangerous bats) and the American Legion (for sponsoring leagues that allow the bats), as well as the bat manufacturer. I'm sure the attorney for the parents adhered to the old legal maxim, "Always go after the defendant with the deepest pockets".

In the defense of Legion Baseball, the participants are generally over 16 years of age. I used to umpire Babe Ruth leagues where the participants were as young as 13, and Bambino leagues, where the kids could be as young as 10. Neither organization has any restrictions on BESR. They're begging for trouble.

On edit, I just saw tron's second comment. I was not aware that Legion Baseball had a bat restriction. Is this true for all Legion leagues, or is it a local option? When was this rule put in? I umpired Legion up until about 5 years ago here in NH, and I do not remember this rule.

posted by Howard_T at 04:48 PM on October 30

Why aren't we suing and/ or arresting these kids? They're the ones hitting the balls.

Do you want an answer or is this just snark? I'll answer it regardless. Using a reasonable man standard, the league and the coaches should be aware that a ball is going to come off the bat quicker.

It's not reasonable to expect an eighteen year old would know that.

If the lawsuit were entered against the parties truly at fault, it would have included the league (for allowing the use of dangerous bats) and the American Legion (for sponsoring leagues that allow the bats), as well as the bat manufacturer. I'm sure the attorney for the parents adhered to the old legal maxim, "Always go after the defendant with the deepest pockets".

Exactly. (One might notice that I said something very similar).

Laws on consumer protection are incredibly limited, and enforcement of the laws are even more limited. Companies are as honest as they are because the ramifications of lawsuits could destroy their business. Litigation is the only thing that stopped manufacturers from using asbestos. They knew about the risks for more than 40 years, but disregarded it. Then, it started costing them money. That is when the industry changed.

Everything you say is correct. However, changing consumer protection laws through litigation is a horrible way to go about it. Tort reform is long overdue. Usually, the only people who get rich are the attorneys and it results in labeling and warnings made for the stupidest people in society so that a manufacturer can lessen legal liabilty.

The end result in this case may be a good one. But I think what you're seeing in alot of these posts is a natural and well earned distrust of lawyers.

DERAIL For example, plaintiff's attorneys are a MAJOR reason behind the distrust of vaccines. Nobody likes big pharma and they are a very deep pocket. But the distrust plaintiff's attorneys endenger when they fund shoddy and bias research into vaccines has pervaded society. This will lead to hundreds if not thousands of kids dying because their parents won't give them necessary vaccines. There was already a measles outbreak in San Diego because parents won't give Kids the MMR shots. This is what happens in a society when litigation runs rampant. END DERAIL

posted by cjets at 05:22 PM on October 30

On edit, I just saw tron's second comment. I was not aware that Legion Baseball had a bat restriction. Is this true for all Legion leagues, or is it a local option? When was this rule put in? I umpired Legion up until about 5 years ago here in NH, and I do not remember this rule.

I played in '98. It seems likely I'm remembering wrong and we were still using the 5 drops then, from your post it looks like 2001 was the switch.

posted by tron7 at 05:33 PM on October 30

Labels aren't on products for the sake of public safety - they're there because of liability. And they should be.

Going after deep pockets is not just a strategy employed to keep lawyers rich (though it's probably the lawyer's most important strategy), but larger fines result in more piblicity and offer a greater potential for more widespread change. Nothing changes if a big wallet isn't hit.

I.e. if Spitzer only successfully sued small insurers and brokers - who may have more flagrantly abused the system than the larger players who are under more scrutiny - we are left with likely the same system and a few small players out of business, instead of the overall that actually occurred.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:34 PM on October 30

I guess now we can look forward to Smith and Wesson being sued in court for failing to tell users that guns kill people.

posted by Drood at 05:39 PM on October 30

As a baseball coach (or, at least a former baseball coach) and someone with intimate knowledge of the coffee industry let me throw my two cents in on both the baseball case and the McDonalds case.

1) The parents clearly went after that party with the most money, not those really at fault. The manufacturer was merely supplying a product in demand. People wanted bats that would hit the ball faster and further. The bat industry puts out a lot of different products, and given that this was a youth league, the league should have restricted the type of bats allowed. Most youth leagues do. We can regulate bat size/type as much as we want, but kids will still be hit with balls, and injurires/deaths will still occur.

2) As others have pointed out, to make the game 100% safe we need to take steps that most of us don't want to take. One logical step is to disband any leagues based on age, and adopt rules based on ability. My kid can hit a ball significantly harder than yours...no really he can...and your kid probably shouldn't be playing with mine. I'm serious about that. When I was coaching rec leagues the most difficult conversations I had were with parents that were upset that I didn't let their little Jimmy play infield. I didn't because their kid sucked as an infielder, and I did not want his death on my hands. A big, more athletic, more coached 12 year old kid hits the ball far more than 8 mph faster than a small, less athletic, less coached 12 year old...do we ban the big kid? Select leagues help, but even then some parents push their kids beyond their ability. Bat regulations will not alter this.

As to the coffee, all good coffee makers make coffee in the 200 to 208 degree range...it's what's needed to extract the oils in the beans. It's the holding temps that matter. McD's used to boil the snot out of their coffee and thus the prospect for deeper burns. And, the old styrofoam cups held temp better than today's typical paper cups so, again, higher burn risk. The burn severity drops significantly with each drop in temp, so going from 180 to 160 is a big deal. Going to 140 is even better. Customers often ask for their drinks to be served "super hot" and that always scares me as I know the risks involved. I also see people driving off with coffee and wonder about the safety risks they're taking. Not just for themselves, but everyone else on the road as well. Back to the McD's case...my mom is 77, and just thinking of her putting a cup coffee between her knees as she tries to stir in sugar makes me shudder. No way her reaction time is quick enough to divert a spill, nor is her reaction time quick enough to pull her sweat pants away from her leg once a spill occurs. Just trouble waiting to happen.

posted by dviking at 05:52 PM on October 30

Going after deep pockets is not just a strategy employed to keep lawyers rich (though it's probably the lawyer's most important strategy), but larger fines result in more piblicity and offer a greater potential for more widespread change. Nothing changes if a big wallet isn't hit.

Yes, but way too many lawyers don't care widespread change or making things safer. They just want to line their pockets. And the only publicity they care about is lining up the next big money case.

posted by cjets at 05:57 PM on October 30

This is what happens in a society when litigation runs rampant.

I think the exact opposite as to vaccines. People don't trust companies, so they don't get their children's vaccinated. They don't trust medical research because for years and years the tobacco industry confused and baffled and lied about the medical research, so people now think it is all spin. The solution is more aggressively going after the bad companies, not giving them a free pass. Publicizing the problems wrought by bad companies is not the problem, bad companies are the problem. And, plaintiff's attorneys can definitely not be blamed for any vaccine related problems because you absolutely cannot sue a company for a defective vaccine. There is a special quasi-judicial, federal system that sets reimbursements for injuries from vaccines, and it is intentionally set for fairly low reimbursement rates.

The jury ruled that the bats were not bad bats. They ruled that the company should have had labels. I think it is apparent that the parents went after the right defendants. American Legion and the rest didn't know the dangers of the bats because they were not adequately warned by the manufacturer.

posted by bperk at 06:20 PM on October 30

And, plaintiff's attorneys can definitely not be blamed for any vaccine related problems because you absolutely cannot sue a company for a defective vaccine. There is a special quasi-judicial, federal system that sets reimbursements for injuries from vaccines, and it is intentionally set for fairly low reimbursement rates.

The vaccine courts do exist. But there is case after case after case brought in state and federal courts trying to get around the vaccine courts. And Andrew Wakefield, noted anti-vaxxer and fraud was funded by attorneys.

The London Sunday Times reported that some of the parents of the 12 children in the Lancet study were recruited via a UK lawyer preparing a lawsuit against MMR manufacturers, and that the Royal Free Hospital had received 55,000 from the UK's Legal Aid Board (now the Legal Services Commission) to pay for the research into what happened to their normally developing children who regressed into autism.

RFK Jr. is another noted anti-vaxxer and trial attorney on the hunt for the deep pockets of big pharma.

Autism's false prophets is a great read on how plaintiff's attorney's fund this bad science.

END SECOND DERAIL

posted by cjets at 06:52 PM on October 30

Related AskMe.

posted by NoMich at 10:32 PM on October 30

sorry no post intended. I have noticed that you can edit multiple times, though.

posted by tselson at 11:28 PM on October 30

The jury ruled that the bats were not bad bats. They ruled that the company should have had labels. I think it is apparent that the parents went after the right defendants. American Legion and the rest didn't know the dangers of the bats because they were not adequately warned by the manufacturer.

The jury disagreed that the dangers of aluminum bats were common knowledge. The manufacturer lost because they failed to properly warn about the dangers of their bats.

Okay, so what label would have saved the kids life or the company $792,000.00?

posted by tselson at 11:39 PM on October 30

As frivolous as it seemed I hope the manufacturer of the aluminum bats put the warning in the bats and another player gets hits by a ball and dies.Then I wonder who is going to be sued?.This lawsuit is as frivolous as they come.As I thought the McDonald lawsuit was frivolous also.It is stupid to put a cup of hot coffee between ones legs.That is dumb as dumb can be and whomever does it is taking a risk.When one plays a game one is taking a risk.Next it will be someone suing the pool manufacturers when a high diver breaks a bone in a dive.Our legal system has taken the wrong turn somewhere and has become ridiculous.No wonder we are where we are and going down sooner that a stone on a pond.

posted by ogomezmontes at 12:50 AM on October 31

This whole discussion has been about the bats and the manufacturers who make them. But what about the kid pitching? The harder the ball is thrown, the harder it is hit. Did no one take this in to consideration? Was this kid a pheonom, the next Nolan Ryan?

Also, why aren't the ball manufacturers being sued? They have "deep pockets" also? Should we sue the glove manufacturer because the kid missed the ball and it hit him? Or maybe Nike because his footing didn't allow him to move fast enough? Where does it end?

Rather than filing a lawsuit, GET INVOLVED. Quit sitting around complaining and saying someone else is responsible for this accident. Get out there and make a difference. Lawsuits only help lawyers. You have the ability to help a kid or maybe save a life just by getting involved.

And a side note, dviking above is right, players need to be placed by ability, not age.

posted by crash21 at 10:42 AM on October 31

The jury disagreed that the dangers of aluminum bats were common knowledge. The manufacturer lost because they failed to properly warn about the dangers of their bats.

Why would a warning label on the bat help the pitchers or fielders? They can't read it, and the batter is in no danger from using the bat.

The warning label should be on the baseball!

"Warning: If pitched towards a batter wielding an aluminum bat, the resulting hit may be dangerous. Please take extra precautions."

But then it makes it difficult to find space for autographs...

posted by grum@work at 02:00 PM on October 31

And a side note, dviking above is right, players need to be placed by ability, not age.

According to some, age IS ability:

The book begins with Gladwell's research on why a disproportionate number of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year. The answer, he points out, is that since youth hockey leagues determine eligibility by calendar year, children born on January 1 play in the same league as those born on December 31 in the same year. Because adolescents born earlier in the year are bigger and maturer than their younger competitors, they are often identified as better athletes, leading to extra coaching and a higher likelihood of being selected for elite hockey leagues.

posted by grum@work at 02:04 PM on October 31

grum, that actually is my point. the kid born in January is almost a full year older that the kid born in December. All things equal, the older kid has an advantage, especially in the younger leagues.

For a short period of time, the youth leagues in my area had two years lumped together...8&9 year olds, 10 & 11 year olds...which made things even worse. They used a July 1st cutoff date. The kid that turned 9 on the previous July 2nd is two years older than the kid that just turned 8 on June 30th. Scary stuff when you consider the likelyhood for injuries.

A widely practiced tactic of some parents is to hold their children back a year before starting school. Thus giving their kid a built in advantage in school sports. I know that my son would play with different kids in school than he would in the summer rec leagues because the kid on his 7th grade team was too old to play on his 12 year old team in the summer, and several 6th grades were forced to play up on his summer team. Should these kids come with warnings?

I think maybe the umpire should announce before every batter what the kid's true age is, and how fast he is capable of swinging the bat. Perhaps, given crash21's point above, we need to announce ahead of time if the pitcher is going to throwing a fast ball, as pitch speed does affect the velocity at which the ball leaves the bat.
We need these warnings as kids need to be able to react, and parents can make informed decisions regarding whether or not little Jimmy should cover 3rd on that pitch. It might slow the game down a bit, but surely it would be worth it.

posted by dviking at 03:05 PM on October 31

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