A $14.5 million settlement was reached Wednesday of a lawsuit filed in the case of a New Jersey youth who sustained brain damage after being struck by a line drive hit by an aluminum bat, according to The Record of North Jersey.
And yet some haters are accusing the family of Steven Domalewski of having filed a frivolous lawsuit against the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats, Hillerich & Bradsby Co. of Kentucky; retailer The Sports Authority; and the New Jersey Little League.
Joe and Nancy Domalewski of Wayne, N.J., filed suit against those defendants in 2008, charging them with product liability and violating consumer fraud laws, which they claimed led to their son’s brain injuries.
The issue was the lack of warnings about, and use by youths of, aluminum baseball bats. Balls hit by bats made of that metal, which have a hollow center and are lightweight, travel much faster than those struck by a wood bat. In fact, those balls move so fast that Little League pitchers like Steven don’t have time to get out of their way.
Here are the facts of his case. In 2006 Steven, then 12, was pitching during a Little League game when a ball hit by an aluminum bat struck him in the chest, according to The Record. Steven’s heart stopped for 15 to 20 minutes, which meant his brain wasn’t getting oxygen during that period.
As a result, Steve sustained traumatic brain injury that put him in a wheelchair, almost blinded him and left him unable to speak. He has made some progress with therapy, but one only has to watch a video of him on The Record’s website, NorthJersey.com, to see the horrendous impact of his TBI.
The settlement will pay for the medical and other care Steven will need for the rest of his life, The Record reported.
Perhaps this sad case will make youth sports organizations take a good look at banning aluminum bats. New York City has already barred aluminum bats from being used in high school games, and the women’s softball league in the New Jersey town of Ridgewood has banned the bats, according to The Record.
The settlement was approved by Superior Court Judge Garry Rothstadt in Paterson, N.J., The Record reported.
The Domalewskis’ attorneys will get $698,000 towards their fees, in addition to $4,037,991 for their agreed-upon 25 percent of any jury award or settlement of the lawsuit, according to The Record.
What is sad, and frightening, about this case is the reaction to the settlement by readers who posted comments on The Record’s online story. Either ignorant or just plain stupid, some people lambasted the Domalewskis for suing.
After all, it was an accident that Steven got hit in the chest, right? What’s next, making kids use Styrofoam bats? And the lawyers got paid for their work?
Even when intelligent readers told these morons that they would feel differently about lawsuits if their infant was decapitated by a faulty baby seat, or their family died when a defective tire blew out, the haters would not listen.
Here is what I would ask those critical of the Domalewskis, their lawsuit and their settlement: How else would you suggest that the family pay for the special care that Steven will need for the rest of his life?