After years of contentious litigation, the Atlanta Braves and the family of a fan who fell to his death at a 2015 game have settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the ball club.
The suit was filed in 2016 by the widow and surviving son of Greg Murrey. Standing up in his second-row, upper deck seat at Turner Field, the 60-year-old grandfather lost his balance and toppled over a 30-inch-high guardrail to the lower level. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court filings. Mike Caplan, the Murreys’ lawyer, declined to comment as did the Braves’ lawyer, Doug Scribner, and team spokeswoman Beth Marshall.
The case, which was to go to trial this month, ends after mountainous filings of legal briefs and pre-trial depositions taken of Braves' officials and other baseball executives, including Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who became president of the Texas Rangers.
The Murreys' lawsuit contended the fatal fall could have been avoided. Both the Braves and Major League Baseball knew that fans seated near railings were at risk because several fans had fallen at other ballparks with similar railings, court filings alleged. (MLB was an initial defendant in the case, but Fulton County State Court Judge John Mather dismissed the league from the case.)
According to court documents, MLB had advised teams that guardrails can be as low as 26 inches — the minimum height set decades ago under the International Building Code. The Murreys’ lawsuit said the Braves’ 30-inch railings at Turner Field still weren’t high enough. It also said protective netting could had been installed on the upper deck to prevent falls.
In his pretrial deposition, Ryan said the Rangers raised their guardrails to 42 inches in 2012 because a fan flipped over a 30 1/2-inch railing and fell to his death at a July 7, 2011, game.
“I just felt that we probably need to protect our fans from themselves,” Ryan testified.
At the Braves’ current stadium, Truist Park, the height of the upper deck railings is 36 inches, according to court filings.
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