Mark Hillman

Why didn't the Patches and their lawyer sue the batter? Or a coach? Or the catcher who called the pitch? Or the league that purchased metal bats rather than wooden ones? Each of those parties — though not at fault — was more directly involved in the events that led to Brandon's death than the manufacturer of the bat.

However, Louisville Slugger has deep pockets, and the other parties don't. Let's face it: for most personal injury lawyers, the answer is always money because they profit from their client's tragedy.

Moreover, the jurors — as is so often the case — focused only on this tragic case. Wanting to do something for the grieving family, the jury awarded $850,000 at the expense of a faceless, far-away corporation. The outcome — and certainly the amount — would have been different if the defendant had been a penniless recreation league or a player or coach who, like Brandon, happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Did the jury consider the impact of its decision on baseball leagues across the country? Next time a player is seriously injured or killed in a similar fashion, his family's lawyer will point to this case and say, "You knew metal bats were dangerous, but you used them anyway."

Unless this verdict is overturned, selection of bats won't be determined by schools, recreation leagues, coaches or parents, but by lawyers and courts. That's a sad way to play America's pastime.


Mark Hillman

Mark Hillman is a Colorado native, a farmer, "recovering journalist" and a former Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate.