To some, it would seem to be a freak accident, unlikely to be repeated. Steven Domalewski released the pitch. The batter made contact. The ball struck Domalewski in his chest, right above his heart, at a millisecond between heartbeats. He went into cardiac arrest and his brain was deprived of oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes. More than six years later, he's still unable to perform any of the functions of daily life on his own, reports The Associated Press.
What were the odds of the ball hitting him at that precise millisecond, right near his heart? Probably pretty slim. Nonetheless, it has been the catalyst of change throughout youth baseball leagues, especially in New Jersey.
According to The Record, local leagues have switched to either wood bats or a safer BBCOR aluminum bat that results in less powerful hits and so far, less injuries. Coaches now must have certifications in first aid classes and this year, for the first time, there were volunteer first aid squads at every single game.
One would hope that the changes will make such rare injuries even more rare. Perhaps it will also cut down on the response time to minimize the effect of such injuries.
As for the $14.5 million settlement between Little League, Sports Authority, the bat manufacturer, and the parents of Steven Domalewski, the terms remain confidential. Even so, the legal theory behind the case probably revolves around the fact that safer bats existed and were not implemented.
Imagine cars being sold without shoulder belts or airbags. That would be an ambulance chaser's dream. The same theory applies to these bats and all other products that have the potential to cause serious injury. If there is a reasonable alternative design that is safer and feasible to implement, the manufacturers are required to adopt the design. Otherwise, they face liability for not doing so when someone is injured.
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