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Posted: 9:48 a.m. Monday, July 14, 2014

Foul ball lawsuit against Atlanta Braves moves forward

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Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves have argued in court filings that spectators know they’re assuming some risk, and many opt for field-level seats for the very reason that a foul or tossed ball might come their way.

By Bill Rankin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Court of Appeals has declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the Atlanta Braves by the father of a 6-year-old girl whose skull was shattered by a foul ball.

The appeals court, in a decision issued Friday, also declined to adopt the so-called “Baseball Rule.”

The rule, already in force in other states, says if a stadium operator provides screening behind home plate — the most dangerous place in the stands — and enough seats for spectators who want to sit there, it cannot be held liable for balls and bats that enter the stands and cause injuries.

The Braves, joined by the office of Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, Bud Selig, had asked the court to impose the rule, which would have essentially rendered the father’s lawsuit null and void.

The appeals court upheld a ruling by Fulton County State Court Judge Patsy Porter who declined to declare the “Baseball Rule” is Georgia law.

“At this stage of this litigation, we find no error in the trial court’s refusal to make such a declaration of law,” wrote Judge Elizabeth Branch for a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.

The suit was brought by a man who’d taken his 6-year-old daughter to a May 30, 2010, game at Turner Field. During one at bat, then-Braves outfielder Melky Cabrera slashed a liner behind the third-base dugout that struck the girl in the forehead, fracturing her skull in 30 places and causing traumatic brain injury.

The girl’s parents believe extended netting should have already been in place, given the number of injuries in seats behind the dugouts, their lawyer, Mike Moran, said in a previous interview.

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