I wonder what former Little League Baseball CEO Creighton Hale would think.
That was the first thought that popped into my head recently when I read in the new “Judicial Hellholes” report by the American Tort Reform Foundation that personal injury lawyers had won an outrageous verdict against one of the largest manufactures of aluminum bats in America.
Mr. Hale told me many years ago that the Little League spent more money on liability insurance to protect itself from lawsuits than it spent on any other item in its budget. If you’re looking for an example of how much our culture has changed for the worse because of all the lawsuits clogging the courts today, you don’t have to look any further than that.
In the 1960’s, Mr. Hale pioneered several changes in baseball equipment to improve the safety of children playing the game. In addition to developing the double-earflap batter’s helmet and the one-piece catcher’s mask, he co-developed with Alcoa Sports the aluminum bat.
The light aluminum bats made the game easier to learn for small children, but their primary benefit was that they didn’t break. Wooden bats can become dangerous projectiles when they splinter. Aluminum bats don’t do that.
Despite the safety advantages of aluminum bats, a judge in Montana last year allowed a personal injury lawyer to sue the company that makes Louisville Slugger bats after a freak accident in which an 18-year-old pitcher was killed by a ball hit with an aluminum bat.
Incredibly, the personal injury lawyer argued that the accident could have been prevented simply if the bat had carried a better warning label. Based on that argument, he won a mindboggling verdict of $850,000. So much for Wacky Warning Labels! See my previous post below for examples of wacky labels that were slapped on products because of lawsuits like this.
We all know that baseball involves risk, just like everything else in life. But lawsuits aren’t making the game safer – just more expensive. America’s favorite pastime is in serious jeopardy.