Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas
Steven Domalewski, the New Jersey boy who was struck in the chest by a ball hit off an aluminum bat in a youth baseball game in Wayne, New Jersey on June 6, 2006 and suffered brain damage after his heart stopped, has sued (along with his parents) Louisville Slugger (the bat manufacturer), Little League Baseball (an organization that has endorsed the use of metal bats) and The Sports Authority, Inc. (the company that sold the bat that was used when Domalewski was injured) in Superior Court of New Jersey, Passaic County.
When Steven Domalewski, then age12, pitched in a youth baseball game on June 6, 2006 and was hit in the chest with the ball off an aluminum bat, his heart stopped, he couldn’t breathe for approximately 15 minutes, and the commotio cordis condition caused brain damage to the point where the now 14-year-old child is confined to a wheelchair, cannot speak clearly and needs 24/7 care.
The lawsuit is the latest salvo against aluminum bats and those who make them, sell them and support them as equally safe as wooden bats. There is a movement against this equality theory – indeed, this season in New York City, for example, only wooden bats could be used in high school baseball games after a law was passed banning the use of metal bats for safety reasons. Other lawsuits exist, including the case of John Baggs v. Little League International in New York State court in Staten Island, where a child was seriously hurt by a ball hit off an aluminum bat in a Little League All-Star game in Staten Island in the summer of 2006.
The Domalewski case in New Jersey seeks an unspecified amount of damages, including punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs of suit. But Mr. Domalewski’s attorney, Ernest Fronzuto, of the Ridgewood, New Jersey firm of Wellinghorst & Fronzuto, has already stated that Steven Domalewski will need millions of dollars worth of medical care, according to a report by the Associated Press. Not surprisingly, plaintiffs are also seeking a jury trial.
The suit is an interesting one on a number of levels. Perhaps most interesting is that Little League is being sued, despite the fact that the game was a Police Athletic League game, not a Little League game. But one theory (among others) under which Little League is being sued, according to Mr. Fronzuto, is that Little League endorsed and endorses the use of these aluminum bats when, in fact, according to the lawsuit, they actually increase the risk of injury to young children playing baseball. Indeed, Little League has been at the forefront of the battle between proponents of wooden bats and their (Little League’s) position that metal bats are the same in terms of the speed and danger of balls coming off of the bats whether metal or wooden.
The lawsuit has five counts against all defendants, including a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a general negligence count and a strict liability count for “a defective baseball bat which was unreasonably dangerous to users and third parties that come in contact with, or were in the vicinity of, the subject baseball bat.”
Another interesting aspect of the lawsuit is who is NOT being sued: the Police Athletic League is not a defendant. Nor is the child who hit the ball with the targeted metal bat made by defendant Louisville Slugger, sold by defendant The Sports Authority and endorsed by defendant Little League.
According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Mr. Fronzuto, the complaint has yet to be served on the defendants as of Thursday, May 22. Once served, the defendants will have time to retain their own attorneys and file answers to the complaint and/or motions testing the validity of the complaint.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.