Follow Deedee Linkedin Twitter Facebook
Email Deedee Email
Legal Issues
Apr 1, 2019

North Carolina’s Baseball Rule Limits Spectator Liability

Sponsored Content provided by Deedee Gasch - Attorney, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

Baseball season is here!
 
Baseball is America’s national pastime, a game that millions enjoy this time of year. From hot dogs and Cracker Jacks at Legion Stadium to high school summer leagues and the MLB, Americans love baseball. 
 
But what happens when a day at the ballpark turns catastrophic and a fan is injured by a foul ball or broken bat?
 
There have been scores of reports of injuries to baseball fans from such accidents, leading most MLB teams to extend protective netting in an attempt to further protect fans. But what happens when patrons are injured by baseballs or bats even with extended screening behind home plate? Is the ballpark operator responsible?
 
North Carolina follows the majority rule of limited liability for stadium operators, significantly limiting any liability an operator has for foul balls. Since its adoption in 1939 by our State Supreme Court, the “Baseball Rule” of limited liability for stadium operators has been applied without exception and provides that there is no liability for ballpark operators unless the area behind home plate is not adequately protected. 
 
While fans enjoy sitting in non-screened seats for the opportunity to catch that pop-fly or foul ball, they do so at their own risk and potentially at their own peril. So long as the operator provides adequate screening behind home plate and otherwise fulfills its duty of reasonable care to patrons, it is well-settled that the operator’s duty to patrons from the risk of being struck by batted or thrown balls is fully discharged. 
In other words, a baseball stadium operator is not liable to a spectator injured by a foul ball unless the area behind home plate is not adequately screened. Our Courts have repeatedly held that spectators with actual or constructive knowledge of the game assume the risk of being struck by a batted or thrown ball, an inherent risk of the game. 
 
Further, a baseball stadium operator has no duty to provide screened seats for all patrons, or even all patrons who request them. Our Courts have held that a stadium operator fulfills its duty by providing adequate screening behind home plate even if an injured patron did not have the option to purchase a seat in the screened area. 
 
If you have plans to take in baseball games this summer, sit behind the netting if you can, and always be aware of your surroundings! 
 
This does not constitute legal advice. Please seek counsel from a legal professional to assess your specific situation.

Deedee Gasch has over a decade of experience litigating catastrophic claims involving serious injury or death. While Deedee’s practice is primarily focused on the defense of premises liability, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, she also has a wide range of civil litigation experience. She spent approximately half of her career representing injured plaintiffs before returning to her first love of civil litigation defense work. This experience on both sides of a case uniquely situates her in negotiations and at trial if settlement is not possible. Deedee is a third-generation Tar Heel and attorney, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a North Carolina Resident Superior Court Judge (deceased), and her father, a career trial lawyer. She has dual degrees in Journalism and Political Science and earned her law degree cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, where she attended on a prestigious merit based scholarship. She is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and Florida. 

Wbj insights revised 0510 121615113531 10218121741
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Chris coudriet

2020: A Year Of Action, Initiatives In New Hanover County

Chris Coudriet - New Hanover County Government
Natalieenglish 3301715113

Advocacy: The Heart of the Chamber

Natalie English - Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Drewsmith copiersplus headshot

Ditch The Fax Line - Gain The Benefits

Drew Smith - Copiers Plus

Trending News

More Than 5,000 Acres Sold To Timber Investors

Cece Nunn - Feb 20, 2020

New Townhomes Nearing Completion In Echo Farms

Cece Nunn - Feb 21, 2020

Canapi Ventures Makes Another Fintech Investment

Jenny Callison - Feb 20, 2020

Jumping January: Home Sales Off To Brisk Start

Cece Nunn - Feb 21, 2020

Family-style Feasts With The Cousins

Jessica Maurer - Feb 21, 2020

In The Current Issue

Info Junkie: Jerry Coleman

Jerry Coleman, regional director of the Small Business Center at Cape Fear Community College, shares his top info and tech picks....


Local 'star' Is Lodging Employee Of The Year

Local hospitality leader Kevin Cottet, general manager of Staybridge Suites Wilmington-Wrightsville at 5010 New Centre Drive, received state...


Family-style Feasts With The Cousins

“The very first dinner we did, I came out at the end to introduce myself, and the dining room filled with applause,” Joe DeLiberto said. “It...

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WILMA Leadership Accelerator
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`