Wednesday, January 11, 2006

SCONJ Ruling Gets Thrown Out

In September, the baseball Nazis over at the NJ Supreme Court ruled that fans should have to watch a baseball game inside hermetically-sealed plastic bubbles to avoid getting hurt while at the ballpark. The court ruled that fans would be able to sue if they get in the way of a foul ball.

It is all harmless fun _ until that one foul ball comes screaming at the wrong time and in the wrong place - SCONJ Ruling

The NJ Legislature tossed out* this asinine ruling with a bill that protects America's pastime from lawyers. (no offense, lawhawk)

Personally, I find any sport is much more enjoyable to watch if there is immanent danger involved. This includes watching the Nashville Predators NHL team in range of a wild slap shot or sitting at Yankee stadium and watching a girl get beaned in the head by a foul ball. I'm not sure if the ruling would have applied to Keith Oberman's mother - who was hit in the head, at her seat, by a wild throw from ex-Yankee second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch.

The SCONJ would have transformed ball parks from a playground to a lawyer's field of dreams. While this ruling was in Jersey, law firms across the country would not hesitate to dust off their Baseball For Dummies book and head out to the ballgame if they smelled a buck. Chasing ambulances would be a thing of the past, replaced by chasing down foul balls.

The NJ State Senate balked at this ruling and pitched the New Jersey Baseball Spectator Safety Act of 2006. The bill protects team owners from lawsuits filed by fans who are struck while at a game. One assemblyman, Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), stated that the SCONJ ruling "violates common sense".

The bill is in response to the recent New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Maisonave v. The Newark Bears Professional Baseball Club, Inc., 185 N.J. 70 (2005) in which the New Jersey Supreme Court held that while "the limited duty rule," which restricts the tort liability of owners, applies in situations where an injury occurs in the stands, traditional negligence principles apply in all other areas of the stadium. This bill provides that the assumption of risk shall be a complete bar to suit and serve as a complete defense to a suit against an owner by a spectator with certain stated exceptions.

The bill passed the Senate 25-7, and then the Assembly, 76-0. It now goes to Gov. Codey's desk for signing. The bill would become law prior to the 2006 Baseball season, so put down the cell phone and watch the game.

(Source - Star Ledger)

*Baseball metaphor alert

Other Links
SCONJ Has No Marbles
New Jersey Baseball Spectator Safety Act of 2006