The state Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that baseball team owners only have a limited duty to protect spectators. The court rejected the appeal of Kathleen Turner, who received personal injuries in May of 2002 after being hit by a foul ball at a Las Vegas 51s baseball game.
Turner and her husband filed suit against Mandalay Sports Entertainment, the owners of the 51s at the time, after the ball hit her in the face and knocked her unconscious, broke her nose, and left her with cuts on her face. The suit alleged negligence, loss of consortium, and emotional distress.
On May 4, 2002, the Turners, who had season tickets, left their assigned seats to go to the Beer Garden, which is several hundred feet from the playing field. Turner was eating a sandwich at a table and unable to see any part of the field when the ball hit her.
The court ruled that a proprietor has a general duty for reasonable care to keep the premises safe. The court said that in the case of ballparks, only the most dangerous parts of the stadium, such as behind home plate, need to have sufficient protective seating and protections for spectators. The Court went on to write that a stadium operator “simply has no remaining duty to protect spectators from foul balls, which are a known, obvious and unavoidable part of all baseball games,” the court’s decision said.
Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, who wrote the dissent, concluded that “the 51s had a general duty to protect Mrs. Turner from injury in the Beer Garden. Whether the 51s breached that duty by failing to provide a protective screen or barrier is a question of fact for the jury.”