Brain Injury Settlement Reached For 6-Year-Old Girl Struck by Ball at Atlanta Braves Game

A brain injury lawsuit filed by the father of a 6-year-old girl who suffered severe trauma at an Atlanta Braves game has been settled.

Fred Fletcher filed the brain injury lawsuit against the Braves after his daughter was struck in the head by a foul ball while sitting behind the team dugout at Turner Field on Aug. 30, 2010.

The girl’s skull fractured in 30 places when the ball hit by Melky Cabrera went foul and into the stands in the fourth inning.

Fletcher filed the suit against the Braves in 2012, later adding Major League Baseball as a defendant. Fletcher’s lawyers attempted to obtain documentation proving that players had used steroids, enabling them to hit the balls harder than someone without the supplements.

Cabrera received a 50-game suspension in 2012 because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. At that time, he was playing for the San Francisco Giants and had tested positive for testosterone. He’s currently with the Chicago White Sox.

Once approved by Judge Patsy Porter, the brain injury lawsuit settlement will end years of litigation.

At one point, the Braves tried to have the case dismissed because of a law called the “Baseball Rule” that is enforced in other states but not yet in Georgia.  The Baseball Rule stipulates that as long as a stadium operator installs proper barriers behind home plate with enough seats for fans who choose to sit there, the venue can’t be liable for player equipment that ends up in the stands, possibly hurting spectators.

Judge Porter and an appeals court did not allow the Baseball Rule to apply in this case.

Brain Injury Lawsuit Blames Lack of Safety Netting

Court filings show the brain injury lawsuit pointed to the lack of adequate safety netting behind the dugout. The Braves and Major League Baseball allegedly knew the lack of proper netting was an issue because, during collective bargaining negotiations in 2007, the players’ union requested that the MLB add more protection along foul lines.

The MLB refused that request even though the union insisted the move would provide better protection for spectators. As more serious injuries have been inflicted upon fans who have been in the line of fire of errant balls and bats, the MLB recently has encouraged the increased protection of longer, higher nets at fields around the country.

The Atlanta Braves no longer plays at Turner Field. Their new field at SunTrust Park had protective nets extended from behind home plate to the ends of both dugouts before the 2017 regular baseball season began.

Court filings show that terms of the brain injury lawsuit settlement are confidential in the Fulton County State Court. The judge has been asked to approve the settlement and an irrevocable trust that will be used to manage the funds for the girl, who has accumulated medical bills nearing $70,000.

Note: McDonald Worley did not represent the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. 


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