$14.5 Million Settlement Awarded in Brain Injury Lawsuit

In a blog post earlier this month, our Oklahoma City head injury lawyers discussed traumatic brain injuries and their long term consequences.  When an injury leaves a patient with permanent, disabling brain damage, the costs of medical care, rehabilitative treatment, and assistive technologies can be astronomical.  In a case reaching national headlines this week, a settlement in the case of a teen left disabled by a brain injury during a youth baseball game acknowledged the financial and emotional costs of such an injury, awarding the young man $14.5 million in a lawsuit against Louisville Slugger, Little League Baseball, and a sporting goods store. In 2006, Steven Domalewski was a 12-year-old little league pitcher in a Police Athletic League.  However, a typical baseball game turned to tragedy when Steven was struck in the chest by a line drive off of a metal bat.  The force was enough to stop Steven's heart, and though bystanders started CPR immediately, the cardiac arrest deprived Steven's brain of oxygen for more than twenty minutes, leading to permanent brain damage.  Now 18, Steven is unable to independently perform any functions of daily living; he will require assistance for the rest of his life. Little League Baseball was named as a defendant in the lawsuit because the plaintiffs alleged that the organization allowed the use of metal bats and said they were safe for youth baseball.  As early as the 1990's Little League Baseball reached an agreement with manufacturers to limit the performance of metal bats to the same standards as wooden bats, because the organization was aware of the dangers associated with metal bats.  After the agreement was reached, pitcher injuries associated with balls hit from metal bats decreased dramatically.  However, the lawsuit alleges that the particular bat associated with Steven Domalewski's injury did not meet safety standards making it acceptable for Little League and youth sports play. The Domalewski family notes that the money awarded in Steven's lawsuit will be used to provide lifetime care for the teen.  After the settlement was announced, the family's attorney released a statement saying, "The Domalewskis are still saddened by the tragic events of June 2006, but this settlement provides them with some relief and comfort that Steven will get the care he needs for the rest of his life. He still can’t perform any functions of daily life on his own." A representative for Louisville Slugger, the bat manufacturer, acknowledged that a settlement had been reached, but did not provide any details of the agreement.  A representative for The Sports Authority, the retailer who sold the bat, could not be reached for comment, and Little League Baseball declined to comment on the settlement.