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Linda Chalat
Linda Chalat
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It’s Not Football

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An Iowa law limiting lawsuits in contact sports doesn’t prevent a softball player from suing a batter for injuries suffered when a bat hit him in the head, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. The issue, the court said, is whether the batter’s action were intentional or reckless, and a jury must decide that.

The first baseman was struck during an informal batting practice for an intramural softball team in 2005. The batter hit a ball toward third base, and the bat went flying about 60 feet and hit the first base player, injuring his right eye. The injured player sued, seeking medical expenses and other damages.

Following a hearing, a district court found softball was a contact sport and liability could only be based on reckless or intentional conduct. The court concluded the batter’s actions were not outside the "normal course of playing softball."

The Iowa Court of Appeals supported the district court’s decision, and the plaintiff appealed to the state Supreme Court. It found that the testimony raised "a reasonable inference of recklessness" and was enough to justify sending the case to trial.

The Colorado Supreme Court considered a similar scenario, but with regard to the waiver preventing a claim against the umpire throwing a bat off the field, see No Player Without Waiver. In the Colorad case, the plaintiff was also allowed to try his claim.