BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An Ellicott City woman is suing the Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball for negligence after she was hit by a flying bat while sitting in the stands at Camden Yards.
Court documents say Patricia Dowdell suffered skull fractures, brain swelling and permanent damage.
Dowdell and her attorney are now demanding better protection for fans, after they say her life was changed forever when a pleasant day at the ballpark on July 23, 2016 turned tragic.
“It’s been traumatic for her, completely life-changing,” attorney Brendan Klaproth says.
Dowdell and her fiance were watching the O’s and the Indians square off. When she looked up at the scoreboard at the bottom of the sixth inning, that’s when it happened. A bat had slipped out of the hands of slugger Chris Davis and was sailing right towards her.
“Next thing she knows, she’s laying back in her chair, bleeding,” according to Klaproth.
“As of right now, she has four plates holding her eye into the sockets,” he says.
The suit is seeking more than $75,000 in damages, but most notably, an injunction requiring the team to install protective netting to the outfield side of each dugout.
“I think it’s necessary so fans are aware of the risk,” Klaproth says. According to him, only nine teams have such extensive netting, and the Orioles are not one of them. Camden Yards currently has netting behind home plate that curves around the first base and third base lines.
On Opening Day this year, multiple bats flew into the stands at Camden Yards when Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar lost his grip on successive swings.
This kind of thing could cost a fan their life, according to Klaproth.
“A bat, you can’t escape it, you can’t move to your left, your right, you can’t duck.”
Many have complained that more netting takes away from the fan experience, but starting last year, Major League Baseball recommended teams extend netting at least to the dugouts from home plate.
The Orioles and Major League Baseball declined to comment on Dowdell’s suit, which does not blame Davis in any way. It says he was just doing his job.