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Product Liability Lawsuit Filed Against Bat Maker by Brain Injured Child: Can A Case Like This Receive Lawsuit Financing?

A lawsuit filed Monday in Passaic County Superior Court (New Jersey) claims that the maker of an aluminum baseball bat used to hit a line drive that struck a boy in the head and caused permanent brain damage, knew or should have known that the bat was dangerous for children to use. In the lawsuit, the family of Steven Domaleski alleges that Hillerich & Bradsby Co., maker of the Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat, should be held liable for the boy’s injuries. The suit also names Little League Baseball,which approved the bat for use in the league and the Sports Authority, which sold the bat. The lawsuit filed by attorney Ernest Fronzuto, claims the defendants knew, or should have known, that the bat was dangerous for children to use. Domaleski suffered brain damage after the drive struck him in the chest, stopping his heart and depriving his brain of oxygen.

“People who have children in youth sports are excited about the lawsuit from a public policy standpoint because they hope it can make the sport safer. There are also those who are skeptical of the lawsuit and don’t see the connection between Steven’s injury and the aluminum bat,” said Fronzuto.

Domalewski is severely disabled, left with brain damage after being struck in the chest by a line drive that stopped his heart. Other than the word “Yeah,” which he repeats over and over, or “Dadada” which he sometimes utters when he sees his father, Steven cannot speak. He also can’t walk or stand on his own, and needs help with everything from using the bathroom to eating.

A Fort Worth Star Telegram article on the incident provides additional detail. Domalewski was pitching; the mound was 45 feet from home plate and his pitch was hit right at him and slammed into his chest. He clutched his chest, started toward the ball as if to field it, and collapsed. (911 was called and bystanders and emergency crews responded immediately, but several minutes of oxygen deprivation caused permanent brain damage.

Hillerich & Bradsby said Domalewski’s injury, called commotio cordis, happens more often in baseball from thrown balls than batted ones.

“Our 124-year old, fifth-generation family-owned company never wants to see anyone injured playing baseball, the game we love,” the company said in a statement. “But injuries do occur in sports. While unfortunate, these are accidents. We sympathize with Steven and his family, but our bat is not to blame for his injury.”

Stephen Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball, declined comment on the case, but said in a statement, “Little League will continue its strong commitment to player safety, and we feel our well-documented record of safety in youth baseball speaks for itself.” On its Web site, Little League denied that metal bats are inherently riskier.

The suit touches on a long debated issue in youth baseball programs. Several other boys have been injured in similar incidents; as to whether the injuries were more serious because of the use of aluminum, rather than wood, is at the center of the controversy. New York City and North Dakota have banned metal bats for youth and school sports; New Jersey is now considering a similar ban.

As attorneys reading this blog well know, this is a “Product Liability” case. Attorney Fronzuto will have to prove that the bat was dangerously defective; he has a long, hard fight on his hands and I wish him luck. Lawsuit Financial can and does provide lawsuit financing in product liability cases, however, this case raises an important legal issue that those in similar circumstances and looking for legal financing, must understand and consider. Because the victim in this case is a 14 year boy, he lacks the necessary capacity to enter into a legal finance agreement. Further, even if he was an adult, his brain damage would prevent him from entering into a legal funding agreement. To enter into any legally binding contract, both parties must have the capacity to contract.

The only possibility for lawsuit financing in this case would be against that part of any settlement or award paid to his parents for payment of out-of-pocket medical expenses or for that amount that reimburses them their own rendering of care to Steven. Depending upon the health insurance situation of the parents of the victim in these types of cases, medical expenses could be financially devastating and lawsuit financial services may be a financial life saver. For more information about legal finance services in these types of emotionally and financially devastating situations, please contact us toll free at 1-877-377-SUIT (7848) or visit us on the web at www.lawsuitfinancial.com. We will provide professional, experienced advice at absolutely no charge. Contact Lawsuit Financial Corporation today for a free analysis of your case funding situation.