Baseball coach standing next to batting cage is struck by ball that fractures his testicle.
Past economic damages: $18,000
Future economic damages: $104,000
Past non-economic damages: $100,000
Future non-economic damages: $378,000
Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood & Campora by Daniel Schneiderman, Sacramento.
Kronenberg Law Group by James Burns, Oakland.
Sarah Chan, M.D., urology, Modesto.
Adam Bellinger, M.D., urology, Santa Rosa.
Louis Giorgi, M.D., urology, Danville.
Patrick Bennett, M.D., urology, Walnut Creek.
Agnes Grogan, R.N., past and future medical billing, Orange County.
Thomas Jennings, C.S.E., safety engineering, Utah.
On January 21, 2016, plaintiff, a then 23-year-old coach of defendant’s U-10 baseball team, was preparing to leave defendant’s batting cage facility in Modesto. As plaintiff walked through a walkway area that separated the netted #2 and #3 batting lanes, a parent of one of plaintiff’s U-10 players approached him. While plaintiff spoke to the parent, a player hitting batting practice in the #3 batting lane struck a ball that traveled through the safety netting that ran between the #3 batting lane and the walkway area.
Though it was unknown whether a hole in the safety netting along the #3 batting lane pre-existed the foul ball, it was uncontested that a ball traveled through the netting. The trajectory of the ball continued past the netting and struck plaintiff in the groin, causing his right testicle to fracture. Plaintiff underwent a scrotal exploration at the Kaiser Permanente emergency room to repair the right testicle. The repair resulted in a testicular volume loss of approximately 30%-50%. Following the surgery, plaintiff developed symptoms consistent with “chronic orchialgia,” or chronic pain of the testicle. Plaintiff’s treating Kaiser physicians testified that plaintiff would potentially benefit from a spermatic cord denervation or orchiectomy, but they could not testify that these procedures would occur in the future “to a degree of medical certainty.”
It was determined at trial that defendant had installed used, donated netting during the initial installation of the facility in July 2012. Despite a minimum of thirty repairs to the netting over the next 3 1/2 years, defendant never replaced the netting at the location. In addition to other deficiencies (signage, warning, instruction), defendant also testified that it had no inspection procedure for the netting, no documentation to track repairs, and no formal instruction relative to use of the walkway area. The nets were ultimately destroyed 10 days following the subject incident when defendant changed to a new facility, and there was evidence that defendant had new nets available to install at the time of the incident. Defendant’s director of day-to-day operations and person most knowledgeable regarding safety, protocol and procedure also testified that “double netting,” something that was present between the batting lanes but not along the walkway area, would have reduced the possibility of injury to 0%.
That defendant had notice of the defective nature of the nets, and that a reasonable inspection procedure or safety program would have revealed the dangerous condition prior to the incident. Also, that defendant failed to properly design the facility, both in its placement of the walkway between two batting lanes and its failure to “double net” the walkway area.
Defendant contended that it was well known and “common knowledge” for people at the facility that they should not use the walkway area during active batting practice in the #2 and #3 lanes. Defendant also contended that it was “common sense” not to stand in the area during active batting practice, and that plaintiff was 100% at fault due to his extensive baseball experience and time at other batting cages.
Plaintiff suffered a testicular rupture/fracture of the right testicle. This required a scrotal exploration, leading to a bilateral orchiopexy and unilateral repair of the right testicle with debridement. Plaintiff claimed that he would require additional conservative care as well as future surgical procedures to resolve his ongoing chronic pain symptoms.