Neil Pakett v. Phillies

You may recall the Center for Justice & Democracy’s Zany Immunity Law Awards criticized the three states that provided immunity to baseball stadiums for spectator injuries. The immunity is based on the common-law doctrine of assumption of the risk, made explicit on the back of baseball tickets and announcements at baseball games. Nevertheless, dentist Neil Pakett is suing the Phillies for compensation for injuries he received when he unsuccessfully tried to catch a foul ball hit by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The case has been thrown out by the trial court, but Pakett is arguing that the fact that the Phillies built a backstop creates a duty for them to have built a backstop that would’ve protected him. The Phillies will likely win, but they’ve sure spent a great deal of money defending themselves against the eventuality that they have a judge who wants to make new law, and a statutory immunity law would’ve provided a clearer rule that would have discouraged the suit in the first place. (Mark Levy, AP/LA Times, Feb. 4). Update: Phillies’ win affirmed.

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