Case Summary: Beware of the foul ball
The claim of a spectator, who was struck on the head by a foul ball from an adjacent baseball diamond, was dismissed.
Insurance law – Liability insurance – Occupiers liability – Statutory provisions – Definitions – Duty to notify – Risk – Practice – Summary judgments
Rivers v. North Vancouver (District),  B.C.J. No. 1131, 2020 BCSC 1050, British Columbia Supreme Court, July 15, 2020, M. Tammen J.
The plaintiff was struck on the head by a foul ball from an adjacent baseball diamond when watching his teenage son play little league baseball in a park in North Vancouver. The plaintiff sued the District of North Vancouver, Little League Baseball Canada, Mount Seymour Little League Association, the West Vancouver Little League Society, and a series of unnamed individuals linked to the leagues (the “League Defendants”). The claim against Little League Baseball Canada was dismissed as it was not an occupier of the park since it is headquartered in Ottawa and had no responsibility or control over the park. The claim against the District was dismissed as the layout and design of the baseball diamonds and the rest of the park did not create an unreasonable risk to safety as it was consistent with industry standard and there was an absence of prior instances of people being struck by foul balls. Further, the court held that there was a generally known but minimal risk of foul balls from one diamond landing in the bleachers of the other diamond. The spectators relied on warning calls to alert them of errant baseballs, and such warnings were generally effective. The claims against the League Defendants were dismissed as the risk of foul balls landing in the bleachers was not an unusual or exceptional risk that gave rise to a duty by the League Defendants to take steps to ameliorate or warn of its presence.
This case was digested by Dionne H. Liu, and first published in the LexisNexis® Harper Grey Insurance Law Netletter and the Harper Grey Insurance Law Newsletter. If you would like to discuss this case further, please contact Dionne H. Liu at email@example.com.