March 13, 2015
In South Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus, 11 N.E.3d 903 (Ind. 2014), a baseball game spectator was hit on the head by a foul ball and brought a premises liability and negligence action against the team owners and the stadium operators. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court in a 3-0 decision. The Supreme Court accepted transfer and affirmed summary judgment for the defendants.
Plaintiff attended the opening day game of the RailCats, a minor league baseball team, at their home stadium, the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Indiana. Just after the start of play, the second batter hit a pop-up foul ball. Plaintiff saw the batter make contact with the ball, and as she looked up to see where it had gone, it hit her in the face. As a result, she suffered serious injuries, including several fractured facial bones and permanent blindness in her left eye.
The following text was printed on the plaintiff’s ticket: “The ticket holder assumes all risks incident to the game or related events to which this ticket admits holder.” There was also a warning on the ticket that cautioned spectators about “the danger of being injured by … thrown or batted balls.” Her seat was in a lower section along the first base line. At the end of that aisle, a sign read “Please Be Aware Of Objects Leaving The Playing Field.” The plaintiff sat in section 111, which falls just outside of the protective netting behind home plate. Before the game began, plaintiff heard an announcer warn the fans to watch out for objects leaving the field of play.
Plaintiff sued the owners of the team and the operators of the stadium, alleging they “were negligent in failing to make [the] premises reasonably safe for [her], a business invitee.” She claimed the defendants breached their duty to her because they were negligent in the design, construction, and maintenance of the ballpark by failing to extend the protective netting far enough along the foul ball line.
The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff was a mere licensee and therefore they fulfilled their duty to warn her of known latent dangers. Plaintiff contended (1) she was not a licensee but rather an invitee, and (2) the defendants “breached the standard of care for a public baseball stadium because they failed to extend the netting continuously to both first and third base.” The trial court denied the defendants’ motion, but the Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the trial court and granted the defendants’ summary judgment.
In the Indiana Supreme Court, both parties agreed that defendants notified plaintiff of the danger of foul balls by printing a warning on her ticket, posting a sign in the aisle near her seat, and making an announcement over the loudspeaker before the beginning of the game. Based upon these efforts, defendants would have had no reason to believe that plaintiff would not realize the danger, or that she would not protect herself against it. Thus, the Supreme Court found that plaintiff could not establish a genuine issue of fact as to the second element of her premises liability claim, and the trial court should have granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment on that claim.
GARAN LUCOW MILLER
GRAND RAPIDS SPRING BREAKFAST SEMINAR
April 23, 2015 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
You and your co-workers are invited to attend our complimentary Annual Spring Breakfast Seminar at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on Thursday, April 23, 2015. After the seminar, please enjoy all of the indoor and outdoor garden areas as our guests, including the always wonderful Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit.
If you are able to attend, please R.S.V.P., along with the full names and number of attendees, to Lynn Beatty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 616-742-5500. We look forward to seeing you at the gardens.
8:00 – 8:25 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast.
8:25 – 8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introduction.
David A. Couch, Moderator
8:30 – 8:50 a.m. Recommendations for Successfully Navigating the Appellate Courts.
Guest Speaker: Hon. Jane M. Beckering, Michigan Court of Appeals
8:50 – 10:15 a.m. Michigan First Party No-Fault (PIP) Updates.
A comprehensive review of significant court decisions over the past year.
Speaker: Emily L. Partridge
10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 – 10:50 a.m. Michigan Third-Party (Automobile Negligence and Premises Liability) Updates.
How courts are applying McCormick v Carrier, Lugo v Ameritech, as well as the continued importance of using a wide variety of social networking sites for impeachment.
Speaker: David A. Couch
10:50 – 11:10 a.m. Strategies and Tools for Handling Uncooperative Claimants.
Speaker: Diego J. Rojas
11:10 – 11:40 a.m. File Handling Recommendations for Auto Claims Involving Probate Matters.
Speaker: Tara L. Velting
11:40 – 12:00 p.m. The Transition from Judge to Mediator and the Ongoing Importance of ADR.
Speaker: Terry R. Thomas, Of Counsel with Garan Lucow Miller and Retired Newaygo County Circuit Court Judge
12:00 – 12:15 p.m. Question and Answer Session With the Panel of Speakers.
Save The Date!
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Windy City Seminar
The 2015 Windy City Seminar will take place on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at the Chicago Marriott Schaumburg.
Illinois Continuing Education Credits will be offered.