Montana jury finds H&B at fault in baseball bat lawsuit

Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A Montana jury has found the maker of Louisville Slugger bats failed to adequately warn about the dangers its product can pose.

Hillerich and Bradsby has been ordered to pay $850,000 to the family of 18-year-old Brandon Patch. The teenager was killed during a 2003 baseball game after being struck in the head by a batted ball off an aluminum bat while pitching during an American Legion game in Helena, MT.

The Patch family argued aluminum bats are dangerous because they cause the ball to travel faster than those hit off wooden bats. They said Brandon did not have enough time to react after the ball was hit.

Although the jury did award the Patch family money saying that H&B failed to place warning labels on the aluminum bats, they also said the bat was not defective.

Following the verdict, Hillerich & Bradsby released this statement:

"This was an emotional case and we believe the jury responded to that and issued an emotional verdict.

Our company did nothing wrong. We made a bat in accordance with the rules.  That bat was approved for play by baseball's organizing and governing organizations. In fact, the jury found in our favor, that the bat was not defective.   

However, the verdict that our company "failed to adequately warn of the dangers of the bat" has left us puzzled. It seems contradictory for the jury to say the bat is not defective but our company failed to warn that it could be dangerous. It appears to be an indictment of the entire sport of baseball. Anyone who has ever played the game, or any sport for that matter, understands there are risks inherent in baseball and the object is to use a bat, whether wood or aluminum, to hit the ball hard. Unfortunately, this verdict seems to be a statement on the society we live in today, that everything must have a warning label.

We sympathize with the Patch family over their loss, as we have since we first learned of this terrible accident. But we still believe this was an accident on a baseball field. Perhaps this will give the Patch family some closure.  We hope that it does."

Rick Redman
VP Corporate Communications

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