H&B bat maker not liable in pitcher’s injuries

Published 2:16 am Tuesday, July 1, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma man who was seriously injured by a line drive during a 2006 high school baseball game isn’t entitled to a nearly $1 million award from the manufacturer of the bat used to hit the ball, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Dillon Yeaman was a 15-year-old pitcher for Norman High School when a line drive struck him in the face, breaking his frontal and nasal bones and fracturing the orbital walls of both eyes. Yeaman lost his sense of smell, had a mesh plate inserted in his forehead and had his nose rebuilt with titanium, according to court records.

Yeaman and his family sued Hillerich & Bradsby, the Kentucky company that made the Louisville Slugger Exogrid bat, claiming the bat was defective because it propelled the ball too fast.

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A jury awarded the family $950,000, but the company appealed and a judge set aside that verdict. The judge determined that the Yeamans did not provide sufficient evidence that a defect in the bat made it unreasonably dangerous, or that there was a dangerous characteristic of the bat that triggered a duty on the part of the company to warn the public.

A three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upheld that ruling on Monday.

“Because the Yeamans failed to present any objective evidence showing the bat to be dangerous beyond that reasonably contemplated by the ordinary consumer, we affirm,” the appeals court panel wrote.

Hillerich & Bradsby said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s decision.

“We never want to see anyone hurt participating in baseball, the game we love and have been part of for 130 years,” the company said. “Unfortunately, while extremely rare, injuries do occur in sports, including ones with batted balls.

“The vast majority of people who play supports fully recognize and accept those risks.”

Messages left with attorneys for the Yeaman family were not immediately returned.


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