Sports Law • Risk Management

Assumption of Risk

MLB Protective Netting Extension: To Protect the Fans or to Protect the Facility Owners?

The start of the 2018 season will see all 30 MLB install protective netting to the near ends of each dugout with some teams extending their protective netting even further. In doing so, these clubs are extending the protection to spectators who are dangerously close to the action. Baseball, since the early 1900’s, has been operating under the safety net of the “Baseball Rule,” the assumption of risk that states that injury from objects leaving the field of play and into the stands are an open and obvious risk that is inherent to the game. In purchasing their tickets and attending a game, spectators agree to the Baseball Rule, which might include their suffering injuries from balls, bats, gloves, and even athletes making their way into the stands.

However, baseball today is vastly different from the games played a century ago.

October 21, 2010: Assumption of Risk: T.J. Lavin's BMX Bike Crash

Following a tragic bike accident in Las Vegas last week, T.J. Lavin, a BMX biker, is still in a doctor-induced coma, according to yesterday’s report from People. On a qualifying run at a Las Vegas event, Lavin was unsuccessful in getting his feet back on his pedals and was knocked unconscious after he landed hard on the ground (ESPN Action Sports, Oct. 18, 2010). The risk associated with sport is what makes an activity exciting and challenging, but risk can be frightening for the host of a competition.

September 27, 2010: Skier Assumed Risk of Injury by Snowboarder

In a recent case, Bell v. Dean, __A.2d __, 2010 WL 3211956 (Pa.Super. August 16, 2010), Plaintiff Bell, a skier, brought a personal injury action against Dean, a snowboarder, claiming that he sustained injuries arising out of a collision at Ski Roundtop, a recreational ski area. The accident occurred while they were both progressing down Ramrod, an “expert level” ski slope. Bell claimed that Dean was snowboarding at a high rate of speed down the steeper “headwall” of the slope and failed to keep a proper lookout, and by doing so was negligent.