Bat Decision

Published August 22, 2011

Warning labels are not enough, according to the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld a verdict by a pitcher against a manufacturer of aluminum baseball bats.

Baseballs are said to “come off” aluminum bats faster, and many say they have a larger “sweet spot” and “more power.”

While pitching in an American Legion game, a boy was struck in the head by a ball hit with an aluminum bat. He died from his injuries. His parents sued the bat manufacturer, alleging the warning label was not enough. The company should have advertised the bats “could kill.”

A separate concurring opinion noted a warning that balls hit with the bat travel unusually fast or travel longer distances would not have helped, because these aspects are precisely what baseball players want.

Most states allow only consumers or users of a product to recover such claims, so Montana is in the minority.

Source: Sean Wajert, “State Court Upholds Questionable Bystander Liability Claim, Mass Tort Defense,” August 1, 2011