MLB Safety Lawsuit: Details, Comments as Fans Seek Additional Protective Netting

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 13, 2015

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks gestures during a media conference Friday, June 19, 2015, prior to a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

A federal lawsuit was filed against Major League Baseball on behalf of Oakland Athletics season-ticket holder Gail Payne on Monday in San Francisco.

The class-action suit implores MLB to install netting from foul pole to foul pole as a means of protecting fans from bats and balls that fly into the stands, per ESPN.com news services.

Seattle law firm Hagens Berman is taking charge of the lawsuit. Firm managing partner Steve Berman is imploring MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to utilize available funds appropriately:        

It is time for the commissioner to take action, to protect spectators sitting between the foul lines along first and third base, where fans are suffering serious and entirely preventable injury. The MLB currently generates $9 billion in revenue annually. We think that asking the league and commissioner to be responsible for increased netting and basic protection for the fans who fill the seats is the MLB's duty to baseball's most dedicated.

Hagens Berman released a video to further explain the reasoning behind the litigation:

No monetary damages are being sought in the suit, which comes just days after a second fan in as many months was injured while taking in a game at historic Fenway Park. Payne hasn't been injured herself but explains in the lawsuit that she fears for her personal safety at ballgames.

Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated referred to how there's little legal protection for spectators who are injured during MLB action:

Putting up such extensive netting seems like a daunting undertaking. Traditional fans of America's Pastime may not be too pleased with drastically changing the atmosphere at MLB stadiums.   

The sheer speed of balls and bats flying around can be extremely dangerous the closer fans get to the live action. Fans have always understood the risk associated with sitting nearer to the diamond, though, so it will be interesting to see the suit's resolution.

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