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Fan Files Suit Over 2016 Baseball Bat Injury

Jason Scott

An Indiana man filed suit against Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, claiming he had suffered a severe injury after being struck with a flying bat at a 2016 game hosted by the Chicago White Sox.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times the fan, John Flaherty, was invited to attend the June 2016 game at what was then called U.S. Cellular Field. In the eighth inning of that game, Toronto Blue Jays player Kevin Pillar accidentally flung his bat into the stands, causing Flaherty to sustain a “skull laceration” and “ongoing head trauma,” according to the lawsuit.  

The 12-page suit alleges that Pillar has a history of losing his bats, caused by the lack of a knob at the base of the bat. The suit alleges that Pillar’s use of such bats was allowed because the team and league failed to adequately punish Pillar for their use.

Pillar has inadvertently flung his bats into the stands before — in 2015 and in 2017 — but the bats he lost during those incidents appear to have knobs.

The suit also blames MLB for not extending safety netting far enough down the baselines. Flaherty was seated behind the White Sox dugout seven rows back when he was struck. The league has since called for safety netting at all MLB ballparks to be extended.

Kevin Pillar, the Toronto Blue Jays and their ownership, MLB and the office of commissioner Rob Manfred are named in the suit as defendants. Flaherty is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

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