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Aluminum Baseball Bat Manufacturer Easton Faces Lawsuit Claiming “Unreasonably Dangerous” Bat Caused Teen Pitcher To Suffer Skull Fracture
Complaint Seeks an Injunction to Prevent Easton Inc. from Claiming that BT265 Aluminu Baseball Bat is Safe, as Well as Unspecified Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Easton Sports, a sporting-goods manufacturer is facing an Ohio product liability lawsuit brought on by an Ohio teen who suffered a skull fracture and was in a coma for four days after being struck by a ball hit from an aluminum bat made by the manufacturer. The Cole Schesner vs. Easton Sports, Inc. liability lawsuit (Case No.BC522431) claims the “unreasonably dangerous” design of one of the company’s aluminum baseball bats makes injuries likely to occur during a game.
Cole Schlesner, 18, was struck in the head with a ball hit off of a BT265 aluminum bat made by Van Nuys sporting-goods manufacturer Easton Sports, during a 2009 game for the traveling baseball club Cincinnati Stix. A portion of his skull was removed to allow space for his swollen brain. He was unable to walk or talk or move the right side of his body after he awoke from a coma four days after the incident.
The metal baseball bat at the center of this new lawsuit is known as the BT265. The lawsuit asserts that due to its design, a baseball hit off of the BT265 will have a greater speed than those hit with other bats. As a result, players do not have time to react or protect themselves when a baseball is hit towards them. The lawsuit further alleges the aluminum bat manufacturer is at fault because Easton designs this particular metal bat “so that players could hit a ball harder and faster than any other bats.” The company touts the BT265 as “provid(ing) the most efficient energy transfer from handle to barrel for maximum bat head whip and a quicker bat.”
That is allegedly what happened to Cole Schlesner when he was 15 years old after he threw a baseball while pitching for the Cincinnati STIX traveling team in the Cincinnati suburb of Loveland, Ohio on May 17, 2009. Schlesner was struck by the baseball after it was hit by a player wielding the BT265. Schlesner had to be airlifted to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, where he underwent surgery to remove part of his skull to allow space for his swelling brain. When he awoke from a coma four days after the incident, he was unable to walk or talk, was paralyzed on his right side and remained in a hospital for another six weeks. Despite ongoing outpatient rehabilitation of up to nine hours a week, Schlesner has difficulty walking and lacks the full use of his right side. Though his cognitive development has improved to where he can function in school with some accommodations, recently he has lost the ability to articulate some syllables and words. The product liability lawsuit accuses Easton of being aware that the BT265 has a “serious propensity to cause injuries.” Now 18-years-old. The young man is being represented by Wright & Schulte LLC, an Ohio personal injury law firm. Cole Schesner vs. Easton Sports, Inc., et al. (Case No.BC522431)
“We are hopeful Easton will evaluate this matter, step forward and accept responsibility for this dangerous product that harmed Cole and changed his life.” says Richard Schulte, partner in the law firm Wright & Schulte LLC, representing Cole Schlesner.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damage, as well as an injunction that would prevent the company from claiming that the metal BT265 bat is safe.
In 2010 Schlesner’s father estimated in a USA news report on Aluminum Bats that his son’s care in the first year following the incident cost between $750,000 and $1 million, with insurance picking up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent. The family has lost count of the amount of physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions their son has attended, and they’re still not certain when, or if, he will regain full use of his faculties.
“He will be forever changed,” Scott Schlesner says. “Short of losing one of your kids, this is probably the worst nightmare I can imagine anyone having to go through.”
Cole Schlesner, who lives just outside of Cincinnati, wants to see improved safety measures in the youth game, especially the use of helmets by pitchers.
“(I’m for) anything that will make it safer,” says Cole Schlesner.
“We fight to protect children from products that can cause serious harm and injury. We understand that with children, minor injuries will happen. But when a serious injury occurs that could have been prevented by making a change, like what happened to Cole, we will fight to get that change made,” says Richard Schulte.
According to collected data by the National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research, there were 52 catastrophic injuries (any injury involving a fatality or permanent or temporary severe functional disability) in baseball from 1983 to 2009, with three of them occurring last year. The National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research’s annual report covers only high school and college sports. By comparison, there were 43 in football in 2008.
[http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2010-07-28-metal-bat-debate_N.htm, July 2010]
Aluminum Baseball Bat Complaints
There have been other complaints brought against the manufacturers of aluminum bats in recent years. In 2012, for example, the family of a New Jersey boy who was left brain damaged after being struck in the chest by a ball hit off of a metal bat manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby agreed to settle their lawsuit for more than $14 million.
In 2009, a Montana jury awarded $850,000 to the family of a young man who was killed after suffering a severe head injury from a baseball that that was hit off another Hillerich & Bradsby aluminum bat.
[nytimes.com/2012/08/23/nyregion/lawsuit-over-metal-bats-in-little-league-is-settled.html?_r=0, New York Times, August 23, 2012]
[usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2009-10-29-aluminum-bat-lawsuit_N.htm, USA Today, October 29, 2013]
In 2011, college baseball implemented a new standard for aluminum bats to make them behave more like wood bats. These bats use a Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) performance standard that makes the bat’s composite core less powerful and more like wood bats. In 2012, high school baseball followed suit. Several states have banned metal or non-wood bats. Other states have considered similar measures or have introduced bills after serious injuries to children.
About Wright & Schulte LLC
Wright & Schulte LLC, is an experienced personal injury firm, based in the midwest. The firm is dedicated to helping those who have been injured or wronged and fight tirelessly to ensure that the safety is a priority, especially for children.