PLAINTIFF PREVAILS IN ALUMINUM BAT CASE; AWARDED $850,000 FROM LOUISVILLE SLUGGER

                                                                                   Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

In a Helena, Montana courtroom on Wednesday afternoon, a 12-member state court jury awarded the family of Brandon Patch, the 18-year-old pitcher who was killed by a ball hit off an aluminum bat on July 25, 2003, the sum of $856,000 from defendant Hillerich & Bradsby (more commonly known as Louisville Slugger).  The jury deliberated for a little more than a day and, arguably, has sent a message that may be heard across the country in the continuing battle of metal v. wood bats to be used by the youth of America.

 When reached after the verdict, the Patch family’s attorney, Joe White, Jr., exclusively told Kallas Remarks, “we are happy with the jury’s verdict.  This case was never about the money for the Patch family and we told the jury that.  The jury found that Louisville Slugger failed to warn people about the dangers of the bat made by Louisville Slugger.”

 WHY WASN’T IT ABOUT THE MONEY?

 Well, the history of the Patch case is a long one.  But when the Patch family had to bury their son in 2003, their main goal was to have aluminum bats banned from youth baseball in Montana.  The Patch family thought that they would be able to get a law passed in the Montana legislature doing just that.  But after some bat company representatives went out to Montana (according to the Patch family), all that was passed was a “resolution,” that is, it was suggested that kids not use aluminum bats in Montana. 

 Needless to say, once the proposed law became a resolution, virtually every team in Montana continued to use aluminum (Patch’s team, the Miles City Mavericks, used wood).  But it was the frustration of the Patch family being unable to get a law passed that led them to filing the lawsuit, virtually towards the end of the statute of limitations period.

 Clearly the Patch family was and is hoping that what happened to their son will never happen to anybody else’s son.  If you’ve seen Debbie Patch (Brandon’s mother) on HBO or other places, you would view her as a salt-of-the-earth person who really doesn’t want your family or mine to go through what she went through on that fateful day and for years to come.

 WILL THIS VERDICT HELP THE CAUSE?

 It says here that this is a step in the right direction.  These metal bats aren’t the metal bats from the 1970s, which were heavier and not nearly as technologically advanced as the bats of today.  The advances over time are, frankly, scary.  All you have to do is pitch batting practice to these kids or watch a team that plays with both wood and metal to see the difference.  It’s startling.

 But the ball is rolling.  There’s no metal allowed in New York City high school baseball.  There’s no metal allowed in North Dakota.  Little Leagues in certain towns (Ridgefield, Ct, for example) are going to all wood, at least until the Williamsport Tournament.

 That’s a start.

But, hopefully, this verdict will send a message across the country that bat manufacturers have to be more careful about what they are manufacturing.  If you or your child is involved in youth baseball, maybe it’s time to do something, to approach your Little League board, to get the word out:  these bats are dangerous.

Remember, the life you save, the massive injury you prevent, may be that of your own child.

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “PLAINTIFF PREVAILS IN ALUMINUM BAT CASE; AWARDED $850,000 FROM LOUISVILLE SLUGGER

  1. Steve..please call or email asap. Would like to have you on CNN’s Headline news today to talk about Patch case.
    Please contact asap!

  2. Dear Steve:

    It was a pleasure appearing on CNN earlier today to discuss the ‘wood vs. non-wood’ baseball bat debate.

    There was not enough time for me to make as many points to support the pro-non wood bat debate and I’m sure you could have used more time as well.

    There are some issues which should be remembered.

    1.) Have you seen the results of the 2007 Illinois State University study on wood and non-wood bats. The study concluded that non-wood bats don’t pose a greater safety risk.

    2.) How do you explain the 2007 death of Tulsa Drillers coach Mike Coolbaugh who was killed by a batted ball off a wood bat? It was a freak and tragic accident, as was the incident with Brandon Patch.

    3.) The reason for the use of wood bats in North Dakota is not safety related because no safety study was ever conducted. One of the main reasons was because non-wood bats dent in the cold spring weather and the initiative in North Dakota was primarily encouraged by a professional baseball scout.

    4.) The National Federation of State High School Associations stated in April of this year that the game of high school baseball is in great shape — and high schools around the country use BESR non-wood bats. If there was a safety issue, the National Federation would address the issue immediately, but none exists.

    I look forward to future debates and discussions.

    Mike May
    DTMBA

  3. I agree with Mike May. Balls flying off of bats at hundreds of miles per hour are dangerous, be they wooden or metal! The Patch case was an unfortunate accident. God rest his soul. But would a ball hit off a wood bat that struck the young man in the same spot have still caused his death? I would argue that yes it would have.

  4. This is such a pathetic argument and it is sad that it is still going on. This is simple, to all of you metal bat activists, let’s give MAJOR LEAGUERS METAL BATS!!!! This is a great idea, right!?!?!?!?!? You guys make more money (which is all this is really about-your defense of metal bats is, with all due respect, pathetic). With all of your studies, you can clearly convince major league baseball to use metal equipment, and the hitting statistics will not change at all, right?
    Oh… wrong.
    Sorry fellas, but these bats have led to numerous injuries, a number of comas and a few deaths. In my summer league this past year, I played with both metal and wood, and the results were astonishing. If you realistically think (which I don’t believe you guys actually do- it’s called $) that there is no difference between the two bats, I’ll get you the number to your nearest mental institution.

    Sorry for being so harsh, but this is a ridiculous argument.

  5. Great Article Steve. It’s a very unfortunate incident, and there never seems to be a right answer when it comes to these kind of things. I wish all parties involved the best of luck, and I wish peace and closure will now come upon everyone involved! Thanks for the great read.

  6. Let the pitcher wear a helmet with a facemask if he wishes. Everyone knows that there is risk in baseball… I have lost many close family members, two on freak accidents. It sucks. Suing and getting $856,000 is disgusting to me. Honestly, it makes me sick.

  7. thanks for the info. keep up the good work

  8. Pingback: Metal bats making Wellesley Little League comeback | Wellesley MA's Swellesley Report

  9. Pingback: Metal bats making Wellesley Little League comeback | The Swellesley Report

  10. Thank you for the article Steve.
    Yes, metal/aluminum bats are more dangerous than wood, and I don’t know how people disagree that fact. I know of the studies, I have looked at some, its statistics. Statistics can be skewed it happens all the time. Also, test conditions are ideal, you can get a bat in pass criteria if you try.
    Also, congratulations to Mike May for getting your comment in so quickly. I think your getting a bonus on your next check! Maybe you should let people comment not getting a check for promoting metal/aluminum bats. Yes, studies look good when they are financed, or partly financed by bat manufacturers. Good to see the spokesman for “don’t take my bat away” has lots of time to post comments. You keep doing whats wrong Mike, hell whats one life gone.
    Once again Steve. thank you for the article

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