A big products liability award for the family of a dead American Legion pitcher and against the maker of an aluminum bat company:
Attorneys for Hillerich & Bradsby Co. argued any other bat would not have hit the ball differently; in fact, they said, most bats on the market at the time would have struck the ball harder. Patch’s death was a tragic accident, they said. The defense lawyers declined comment after the verdict was read.
Baseballs hit with aluminum bats, such as the one used in that American Legion game, only give pitchers milliseconds to respond in a defensive stance, the plaintiffs said. Plaintiff’s attorney Joe White said the average time needed by a pitcher to defend a batted ball is 400 milliseconds. Patch had 378 milliseconds to respond, he said.
I’ve never read the pleadings in this case and I’m not a products lawyer, so I have no idea if this is a crazy verdict or not. I will say, however, that I’m pretty dubious about such claims in general. And I say that even though I’m generally anti-aluminum bat.
UPDATE: to clarify: my general position on this is that aluminum bats are either inherently safe with proper use or inherently unsafe and are incapable of proper use that won’t cause injury. The presence or absence of a warning, or a milisecond difference between reaction times off of various aluminum bats does not seem like it would render the bat either safe or unsafe to use. As such, these kinds of bats should either be banned, or else we should accept comebackers to the mound as accidents, however unfortunate they might be.
(link via BTF)