INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled a woman struck by a foul ball and injured at a Gary SouthShore RailCats game cannot sue the team because the danger of foul balls is well-known and baseball fans have an obligation to protect themselves.
On May 23, 2009 -- opening day -- Juanita DeJesus was hit in the face by a pop-up foul ball struck by the second batter of the game. The ball fractured several bones in her face and caused blindness in her left eye, according to court records.
DeJesus sued the RailCats alleging the team had an obligation to protect its stadium visitors from harm and was negligent for not providing protective screening from first to third base.
Lake Superior Judge Calvin Hawkins allowed the lawsuit against the RailCats to proceed.
In a 3-0 decision, the appeals court said no trial was needed and ruled in favor of the baseball team.
The court noted DeJesus frequently attended RailCats games so she knew foul balls regularly flew into the seats. She also received three warnings about foul balls at the May 23 game and could have bought seats behind the home plate screen, the court said.
In its 14-page ruling, the court reviewed similar baseball decisions from around the country.
It found no court has ever concluded a spectator could be unaware that foul balls are part of baseball, potentially dangerous and require that fans pay attention and take steps to protect themselves.