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Plaintiff injured at baseball game – Primary Assumption of Risk?

A recent case involving the primary assumption of the risk doctrine (Mayes v. La Sierra University (Jan. 7, 2022, No. E076374) ___Cal.App.5th___ [2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 8, at *1].) had a surprising outcome:

Plaintiff and appellant Mayes was struck in the face by a foul ball while attending an intercollegiate baseball game between two private universities, Marymount University and defendant and respondent La Sierra University. Mayes suffered skull fractures and brain damage, among other injuries. When struck by the foul ball, Mayes was seated in a grassy area along the third-base line, behind the dugout, which extended eight feet above the ground, and there was no protective netting above the dugout.

Mayes sued La Sierra for her injuries, alleging a single cause of action for negligence. Mayes alleged that La Sierra was negligent for multiple reasons, including its failure to (1) install protective netting over the dugouts, (2) provide a sufficient number of screened seats for spectators, (3) warn spectators that the only available screened seats were in the area behind home plate, and (4) exercise crowd control in order to remove distractions in the area along the third-base line that diverted spectators’ attention from the playing field.

La Sierra moved for summary judgment, claiming that the primary assumption of risk doctrine barred Mayes’s negligence claim. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, observing that the case was “a textbook primary assumption of the risk case.” We reverse. For reasons we explain, La Sierra did not meet its burden of showing that the primary assumption of risk doctrine barred Mayes’s negligence claim. In addition, Mayes showed there were triable issues of material fact concerning whether La Sierra was negligent for the reasons she alleged in her complaint.

The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the grant of summary judgment, holding:

Plaintiff showed there were triable issues of fact concerning the scope of defendant’s duty of care to spectators at its baseball games, and whether it breached its duty of care to plaintiff.

Plaintiff presented a triable issue whether it was reasonable to require defendant to install protective netting over and perhaps beyond the end of its dugouts, in order to minimize the risk of injury to spectators from batted or foul balls.

Plaintiff also raised a triable issue concerning whether defendant had a duty to warn spectators that there was no protective netting above its dugouts.

If you have been injured, and think your injury might fall under the umbrella of “primary assumption of the risk,” call the experience, highly-rated, attorneys at Heiting & Irwin for a free consultation. (951) 682-6400 or visit us online at hilegalgroup.com

 

Mr. Serrano has been admitted to practice before California State and Federal Courts. He was named to the Super Lawyers’ 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Southern California Rising Stars List, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5% of attorneys in Southern California each year. View Attorney Jean-Simon Serrano's Attorney Bio Here.

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