Monday, February 1, 2010

Hey Blue, is it O.K. if I sit on this bucket?

At some levels and ballparks coaches think it is their birthright to sit on a bucket outside the dugout. Frankly, it is exhausting telling coaches and players to “get inside” over, and over, and over. . . Some of us even have a good sadistic chuckle when a foul ball sends a coach or player flying.

On April 18, 2005, Cason McInturff, a high school junior, was sitting with his assistant coach on a bucket outside his dugout when he was hit by a foul ball in the head. According to the lawsuit he filed, the impact resulted in “right parietal skull fracture, frontal lobe contusion, intraparenchymal hemorrhage and an epidural hematoma.” McInturff sued his high school, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), and the game umpires and asked for $3,000,000. McInturff claims that the defendants failed to enforce rules prohibiting anyone from being outside of the dugout during play, and failing to take “proper procedures to protect players such as Cason from unnecessary and foreseeable risks of injury.”

In December the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss the TSSAA from the case because it found that the umpires are not “agents” of the TSSAA, but instead are independent contractors. In other words, the court found that TSSAA is not responsible for the actions of the umpires. The umpires are on their own.

In other cases the courts have found that players and even spectators assume the risk of injury at athletic events. It will be interesting to see if the umpires are held liable for McInturff’s injuries.

The moral of this story is that it is not O.K. to sit outside the dugout – it is not only against the rules, it is a safety rule.

1 comment:

Central TX Umpire #17 said...

Wow! As an fellow umpire this article is 'right on'! I have been trying for years to enforce MLB Rule 3.17 but have been meet with great disdain by all manor of youth league, tournament and managerial officials. It also never ceases to amaze me how everyone wants to blame someone else for their lack of forethought, safety or common sense (hot coffee at McDonalds, lawn mowers as hedge trimmers - duh!). Just when we thought "It will never happen to me..."