On Wednesday, August 22, Steven Domalewski was awarded $14.5 million in a settlement with Hillerich and Bradsby, Little League Baseball, Inc. and Sports Authority. The settlement followed a 2006 incident in which Domalewski, who was 12 years old at the time, suffered severe brain damage after being struck by a line drive hit in a baseball game.
Domalewski Hit by Ball during Game
Domalewski was pitching in a Police Athletic League game when a batter, using a metal bat, hit a line drive. The ball struck Domalewski in the chest, directly above his heart. The ball struck him at a precise instant between heartbeats and sent Domalewski into cardiac arrest. He fell backwards and stopped breathing. By the time emergency responders were able to resuscitate him, his brain had been without oxygen for at least 15 minutes. As a result, Domalewski suffered severe brain damage that has left him unable to perform activities of daily living without assistance. He is nearly blind and is confined to a wheelchair. Although he has regained some speech abilities, his vocabulary is very limited.
Parents Claim Metal Bat Too Dangerous for Youth Games
Domalewski’s parents sued the baseball bat manufacturer, Little League and Sports Authority. They alleged that metal bats are able to launch baseballs at a much higher velocity than wooden bats, and that the bat responsible for injuring their son was unsafe. Although the game was not sponsored by Little League, the organization was listed as a defendant because it certifies certain types of bats as appropriate for youth baseball games.
Ernest Fronzuto, the lawyer who represented Domalewski and his family, stated that this settlement will allow Domalewski to receive care for his lifetime. Under the terms of the settlement, Fronzuto is precluded from giving further details about the case. He is not authorized to disclose whether the defendants in the lawsuit admitted any liability.
Metal Bats Banned in Some Leagues
Critics assert that balls hit with aluminum bats travel at a much higher speed than balls hit with wooden bats. In the early 1990s, Little League agreed to restrict the use of metal bats in youth games. Little League approved certain brands of metal bats that were found to perform in a manner similar to wooden bats. Since the league implemented this restriction, the number of injuries to pitchers has dropped dramatically. Prior to the restriction, pitchers in Little League games suffered injuries an average of 145 times per year. After the restriction, the average number of injuries dropped to between 20 and 30 per year.
Metal bats have been banned from women’s softball games in Ridgewood, New Jersey. They are also prohibited from all high school games in New York City.
Steven D. Keemer, the president and CEO of Little League, has expressed deep sympathy for Domalewski and his parents. He stressed that these types of injuries are extremely rare in baseball, but he is glad that the settlement will effectively ensure that Domalewski will receive the necessary medical care throughout his lifetime.
The family is hopeful that the settlement money will allow Domalewski to be able to live independently one day.
About the author
This article was written by DJ Sweetin for the team at disability denial.