April 6, 2006

California player struck by baseball loses lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A player hit by a pitch during a
college baseball game in California has struck out in his
effort to win damages over the incident.

California's top court ruled 6-1 against a lawsuit by Jose
Avila, a student at Rio Honda Community College, who was struck
by a pitch in a 2001 game against Citrus Community College.
Both schools are in Southern California.

According to his lawsuit, Avila's helmet was broken and he
suffered pain and dizziness from the beaning.

Avila sued both schools, the manager, the maker of his
helmet and others. But in a decision that came during the
opening week of the major-league baseball season, the
California Supreme Court ruled against him.

"For better or worse, being intentionally thrown at is a
fundamental part and inherent risk of the sport of baseball,"
the court wrote. "It is not the function of tort law to police
such conduct."

"Being intentionally hit is likewise an inherent risk of
the sport, so accepted by custom that a pitch intentionally
thrown at a batter has its own terminology: 'brushback,'
'beanball,' 'chin music."'

The decision cited some of the best-known pitchers in
baseball history as evidence even top players had threatened or
intentionally hit batters to gain advantage.

The judges concluded their opinion by quoting a Hall of
Fame player: "In the possibly apocryphal words of New York
Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, 'It ain't over till it's over,' but
this means that for Avila's complaint against Citrus College,
it's over."