$1.7M Verdict to Boy Struck in Head by Baseball at Youth Ball Game

The family of a boy who suffered a severe brain injury after he was struck in the head by a foul ball while standing in a dugout during a youth baseball game in April of 2015 has been awarded a $1.7 million verdict by an Allegheny County jury.

The boy, Zachary Hoffman, was a day shy of his 12th birthday when he was struck by the foul ball, which had passed through an 11-foot gap in the wire fencing around the dugout where he had been standing with his team, according to a Feb. 15 story by The Legal Intelligencer.

Hoffman, who was playing in the game as a member of the Avonworth Athletic Association team, was playing an away game at Chadwick Field in Sewickley Borough against the Quaker Valley Recreation Association team. The field is owned by Sewickley Borough.

The boy was struck by the foul ball on the left side of his head and was taken to Sewickley Hospital, where a CT scan showed he had suffered a traumatic intracerebral bleed, the story reported. The boy underwent a craniotomy to reduce pressure on his brain.

boy struck in head by baseball

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/courtneyk

“Hoffman has suffered headaches since the accident, and he also has become more aggressive and has had difficulty controlling his emotions,” according to a pretrial memo prepared by his lawyers. The memo “also noted that Hoffman has had trouble at school and has required special education and treatment.”

His parents, Douglas and Kimberly Hoffman of Pittsburgh, filed a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of their son against both youth baseball teams and against the Borough of Sewickley, citing the 11-foot-wide gap in the dugout fence that allegedly did not conform to safety standards.

A similar incident had occurred on the field a year before Hoffman was hurt, according to the story. Dugout fences at the other baseball fields where the teams played did not have similar fence gaps where a foul ball could have passed through and struck a player, the report continued.

The Quaker Valley Recreation Association was found 50 percent liable in the case by the jury, while the Borough of Sewickley, which owned and operated the field, was found 40 percent liable. The Avonworth Athletic Association, which reached a confidential settlement with the family before the verdict was reached, was found 10 percent liable.

The jury awarded the family more than $1 million for future medical expenses, as well as slightly more than $100,000 for past medical expenses, and $566,000 for past and future pain and suffering, the story reported.

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