A Montana jury has ordered Hillerich and Bradsby—makers of the Louisville Slugger—to pay $850,000 to the family of a teenager who was killed by a ball that struck off one of the company’s aluminum bats. The family claims that because the ball travels faster off a high performance aluminum bat than a wooden one, Brandon Patch did not have enough time to react.
It wasn’t that the bat was defective, the jury said. The problem was that H&B had improperly failed to place warning labels on the equipment.
What I can’t figure out is what good a label on the bat would have done, since Patch presumably would not have been able to read it from his seat.
I can’t imagine that this award will stand up on appeal, but I’m sure it has lawyers for all sorts of sporting goods manufacturers worried. I suppose that the lawyers for golf manufacturers now will insist that warning labels be placed on their equipment also. After all, titanium face golf clubs clubs and modern balls travel much faster than persimmon and balata, and people will have less time to get out of the way of a 140mph Tiger Woods drive.
I’m truly sorry for the family’s loss, but this lawsuit was ridiculous.