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Justices end suit against Gary Railcats over foul-ball injury

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A fan who suffered fractured facial bones and was blinded in one eye after she was struck by a foul ball at a Gary SouthShore Railcats baseball game may not proceed with a lawsuit against the team, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Justices reversed Lake Superior Judge Calvin Hawkins’ denial of a motion for summary judgment sought by the team. Hawkins granted the team’s request for an interlocutory appeal.

The ruling in  South Shore Baseball, LLC d/b/a Gary South Shore RailCats and Northwest Sports Venture, LLC v. Juanita DeJesus, 45S03-1308-CT-531, puts an end to litigation stemming from DeJesus’ injury that happened more than five years ago.

Justice Mark Massa wrote in a unanimous opinion that the court declined to find a special limited duty beyond the principles of premises liability that govern stadiums and franchises.

The court noted that the ticket, printed notices at the stadium and an announcer’s admonition to fans all alerted them that objects would leave the field of play.

The court’s ruling aligns with a prior Court of Appeals ruling that also found judgment in favor of the team was proper, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s contemporaneous ruling in Pfenning v. Lineman, 947 N.E.2d 392 (Ind. 2011). There, the court ordered judgment in favor of a golf course after a woman driving a golf cart suffered injuries when she was struck in the face by a flying golf ball.

While finding for the team, the court declined amicus Indianapolis Indians’ request that the court adopt the so-called “Baseball Rule,” which generally states that baseball teams and ballparks that provide screening behind home plate have satisfied liability duties. DeJesus’ injury came as she sat in the stands just outside the protective screening behind home plate.

DeJesus’ claim fails as a matter of law, Massa wrote, “because she does not allege an increased risk of harm and cannot establish reliance. In her deposition, DeJesus testified she had seen foul balls enter the stands at RailCats games before. She even admitted she knew, when she was sitting in her seat, “there could be a chance that the ball could come that way.”


 

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  1. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  2. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  3. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  4. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  5. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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