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Jury awards $16.57 million to "Wii" contestant's survivors

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Mark Holtz, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. Richard King

    Richard King Hall Of Fame

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    Bingo!
     
  2. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    The "if only" game plays each way ... if only the contest operators had warned contestants of all potential dangers contestants would have been better prepared.

    I wonder if the station was in violation of section 73.1216 for not disclosing the material terms of the contest in advance? Did they announce, on air, from when the promotion began the full nature of the contest? Did they disclose that forced drinking would be involved in advance from the beginning of the contest promotion? Or were the details held back until it was too late for any reasonable person to stop the contest?

    Stewart, I understand that you would like to see a balanced argument ... but sometimes things are just so wrong that the rest of us reasonable people see it with clarity. Our society doesn't allow one person to put another person's life at risk without a penalty. Reckless disregard for the life and well being of another human being IS worse than reckless disregard for your own life and well being.

    I like personal responsibility ... but I also expect other persons to be responsible for THEIR actions. In this case, operating an unsafe contest.
     
  3. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    The problem with that is, it presumes that all things legal are right, and that justice is always served.

    In other words, just because you win in court doesn't make you right. I think we all have heard of at least one or two murder trials where the person was acquitted but most figured was really guilty and got away with it.

    Similarly, we have seen many historical cases of people being wrongly convicted.

    Lots of things are overturned on appeal... and even things not overturned doesn't make them unarguably just.

    The law is not infallible, and I would challenge anyone who champions the law who says they agree 100% of the time with all legal rulings.

    On the McDonald's front... Coffee=hot, and the person spilling the coffee had it in her lap in a car where you're really not exercising prudence by driving and manipulating something else... and by the way again coffee=hot.

    But the topic of this thread is about who is responsible for drinking too much water.

    It looks like I'm in the minority in terms of seeking personal responsibility on the part of the contestants, so I'll bow out before things get out of hand in the thread. Thanks for the (thus far) reasonable discourse, and we'll just agree to disagree on this one.
     
  4. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    From the Miles City Star:

    Search for "Brandon Patch" or "aluminum bat ruling" and you'll find lots of this all over the internet. I was watching "Outside the Lines" on ESPN and this seems timely as it relates to what we are talking about here.

    The gyst of this ruling is... the jury ruled that the bat itself was not defective nor improperly used... but that the manufacturer of the bat did not place a warning on the bat that said how dangerous it might be.

    I'm going to guess, given the opinions of this thread, that most are going to agree that the manufacturer of the bat is responsible for the tragic death of this boy.
     
  5. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    :) You might be wrong again... :)

    Baseball bats used for various levels of baseball are also regulated. If the bat had conformed to those regulations (and it sounds like it did), and if the packaging included some basic warning (which is more a sad commentary itself) then I expect I would not find the bat maker liable for these damages.

    Now... Had the baseball league not done their job with warnings and waivers, I might find them liable--but probably not. Baseball is a known quantity, a recognized sport, and not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants competition.

    To me, this is a tragic accident. Infielders are expected to keep their eye on the batted ball--but sometimes they can't duck fast enough. I'm sad for the family, but that doesn't mean that anyone is responsible.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  6. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    I'm not. This is a jury out of touch with reality. Are humans stupid enough to need such a warning?
     
  7. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Who would actually read and heed a warning on the bat? Would the parents actually pull their son from playing? Would they have stopped him in the first place?
     
  8. SayWhat?

    SayWhat? Know Nothing

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    The guy was hit by the ball right? Why did they go after the bat maker and not the ball maker?

    If bats and balls weren't dangerous, why are there batting helmets and why do umps and catchers wear chest pads and face masks?
     
  9. Spanky_Partain

    Spanky_Partain Active Member

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    Sounds like someone lost their bonus money this year....
     
  10. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    This is the kind of slippery slope I was expressing concern about in the beginning of this thread. According to the "law" this company was found just as guilty as the contest-people by a jury of peers.

    So whatever you or I might think... the jury ruled the same way in both cases, and this seems to be a trend.
     
  11. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    See my post about the turbo Porsche case.
    Not all suits are the same.
     
  12. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    The jury knows more about the case than you shared in your brief summary.

    Here's more ...
    On July 25, 2003, 18-year-old Brandon Patch was pitching for his American Legion team in Montana, the Miles City Mavericks. Patch threw a pitch and, according to witnesses, never had a chance to get out of the way of a line drive hit at him off an aluminum bat. Patch was hit in the head, suffered devastating head injuries, was taken to the hospital – and died just a few hours later.

    The essence of the case, according to the plaintiffs, is that Brandon Patch simply had no time to react, had no time to get out of the way or do anything to protect himself from a ball that was catapulted off an aluminum bat. According to an AP article written by Brock Vergakis, Patch’s teammate that terrible day, first baseman Kevin Roberts, testified that “t was just so quick. Everything happened so fast.”
    source


    Aluminum bats have different characteristics than wood bats ... although in 2003 when the death occurred they were not exactly new technology.

    The "if only" game comes into play ... the victim and family did not make the choice to use the product, so no warning would have helped him unless it was passed on by the product's owner/user or was a publicly known "well known fact". If there was a decision by the league to allow aluminum bats perhaps they would be another target for a lawsuit - assuming they knew of the danger. Inaction, ie: not prohibiting aluminum bats, could make the league liable. So "if only" the league knew the specific dangers associated with aluminum bats that do not apply to traditional bats they could have warned their players.

    I don't expect the batter to stop the game and announce "Warning! I have an aluminum bat! The ball may fly faster! Danger Danger Danger!" But when technology changes players should be made aware of the changes.

    Again, a brief summary and a Google search does not give one ALL of the facts presented to the jury.
    There have been some loud voices for many years (such as WFAN’s Rick Wolff on his youth sports show, The Sports Edge) who believe (as does this writer) that the aluminum bats of today, in and of themselves, are too dangerous and can maim, severely injure and even kill young baseball players.​
    That is the crux of the argument. Was the product inherently dangerous.

    At first glance, Stewart, I would agree with you that it seems no warning was needed. The danger should have been known. But you have picked a good case for comparison. In both cases there were hidden dangers involved ... undisclosed by the parties held liable by the court. A simple warning would be enough.

    "Warning ... use of this product could kill you or others around you. This warning applies whether the product is used properly or improperly."
     
  13. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Thanks, James.

    I was unaware the incident was in 2003, perhaps before aluminum bats were regulated. (And perhaps they still need some more regulation.)

    Aluminum bats can hit harder and faster--they almost can't break. And transfer more swing energy into a ball than a wood bat. (The wood compresses much more.)

    So the pitcher can't react in time to a line drive.

    Unfortunately... aluminum bats are much less expensive for a team each season.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  14. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    "wonders" if they could be "deadened"?
     
  15. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    It really seems like the major "defense" for use of aluminum bats is the durability, which in turn means less financial impact of replacing... which is why colleges use them, and other similarly strapped-for-cash scenarios.

    One argument I heard today (on TV) was that since the pros don't use aluminum... you'd think the amateur levels would be better preparing young players by using what the pros use.

    The mother of the boy who died in this particular case even went so far as to buy wood and ash bats and gave them to the home team to use... and they did one game... but then went back to aluminum after she left... so it would seem even if someone supplies them with alternative bats, they seem to want to go back to the aluminum.

    I know I have an aluminum bat from when I was a kid still.

    On the safety front... I've always thought the pitcher was in a pretty vulnerable spot (being the closest player on the field directly in front of the batter)... and am surprised this sort of thing (hit by pitch, not necessarily death) doesn't happen more often than it seems to happen.

    This case is slightly different too... in that the parents sued the bat manufacturer and not the team/organization who chose to use the bats. This would be analogous to the water-contest having sued the bottled-water supplier instead of the contest-promoters.

    Which actually brings up the point... wonder when the bottled water company will be sued and we will see a warning label on the bottled water that says something about not drinking more than a certain amount within a certain period of time?
     
  16. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Clearly when one sues, they go after the "deep pockets".
     
  17. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Well, gee. Maybe it was perhaps the water wasn't bottled specifically for unsafe, unregulated water drinking competitions... :)

    The bat is the recent innovation that made baseball more unsafe. Without deadening, the baseballs can fly so fast, pitchers can't duck. Unfortunately they are also less expensive and more durable.

    As to why use them--to boost your stats to get into the big leagues. (Or hope to.)

    Likely another round of serious regulations will be required. Either a helmet for the pitchers or more deadening of the aluminum bats. (Or both.)

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  18. Richard King

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    I don't see a way to deaden an aluminum bat other than possibly making them hollow. The problem with the aluminum bat is that there is no give in the bat. If they make them hollow so that they give then everyone would be batting with dented bats. ;) Maybe something could be done with a handle attached to an aluminum "head" of the bat so that the handle absorbs some of the hit.
     
  19. Richard King

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  20. Sharkie_Fan

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    In High School, I worked at a local little league, and then volunteered in some of my adult years. I haven't been involved in a while, so I haven't kept up on things.... but even when I was there, many years back, there was talk that the technology exists for the aluminum bat manufacturers to create a bat with the same characteristics of a wooden bat.

    When the story of the bat ruling came out a few days ago, I "heard" that the manufacturer claimed that the bat in question was one which had the same characteristics as a wooden bat.

    I didn't have time to look very closely, but my quick google searches this afternoon didn't mention any such claims.

    Personally, I think that this ruling, and the porsche ruling that VOS brought up earlier are just sympathy rulings. Someone was hurt, and so the person with the deepest pockets gets to pay for it.

    By ruling against the bat manufacturer, the jury is, in essence, saying it's unreasonable for a person to know that they could be killed by an aluminum bat. That's a bunch of bunk. There was talk 20 years ago about how much "hotter" aluminum bats were. There were (and probably still are) aluminum bats made which were filled with some sort of gas, so that when the bat compressed, the pressure of the gas provided greater rebound, so the ball "jumped" off the bat. Those are at least 10 years in the past.

    I would argue that anyone who says aluminum bats are used for their durability is full of it. They're used so that 11 and 12 year olds can hit the ball out of the ballpark. "Chicks dig the long ball". For years we've overlooked the dangers of aluminum bats, instead focusing on the excitement they add to the game.

    I know this is all a little off the original topic, slightly... but I couldn't resist.

    And, I think that Stewart will be surprised to find that many of us who are in favor of the ruling in the water case are, if my gut is right, against the ruling in the baseball case. IMO, none of the parties involved - the teams, the league, the bat manufacturers - were remiss in their responsibilities. For me, once that is established, the rest falls into the realm of personal responsibility. When you step onto the mound, you put yourself in the line of fire, and that's on you.

    And, to me, this case is just ridiculous anyway. What would a warning have accomplished? The pitcher wouldn't have seen it... This was a sympathetic jury who felt bad that someone got hurt and decided the person with the deepest pockets should pay for it.

    I heard an "expert" call into a sports radio show the other day, and he claimed that the bat manufacturer was not found liable for the death, but, becuase of what he called "strict product liability", they were essentially found "guilty" of "failure to label".

    If that's the case, then basically it's the "letter of the law" rather than the "spirit of the law". If that's NOT the case, and this WAS just a sympathetic jury... and the bat manufacturer decides to appeal, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see it overturned.

    I saw a quote from the bat manufacturer though that sounded as if they would not appeal. It's really a lose, lose for them. If they appeal and win, they risk losing the court of public opinion - which may be a greater defeat than the one they took inside the courtroom.
     

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