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Is It Fair to Extend Liability to The Foul Poles? The Baseball Rule and the Effects of Increasing Protective Netting

January 29, 2020 BY DEF Admin


An article written by Matthew Nanninga and Alisha Dickie, “Is It Fair to Extend Liability to The Foul Poles? The Baseball Rule and the Effects of Increasing Protective Netting,” was featured in November-December edition of Sports Facilities and the Law. The article discusses the Baseball Rule, which limits the liability of premises operators for injuries sustained by spectators that occur as a result of risks inherent to the game of baseball, and how the extension of protective measures such as netting to the foul poles would affect the sport.

“Since the inception of baseball, clubs and stadium owners have tried to balance spectator preference and experience with safety.  Courts as far back as 1913 have acknowledged that “[b]aseball is not free from danger to those witnessing the game,” but, despite the risks associated with public attendance, “a large part of those who attend prefer to sit where no screen obscures the view.” In fact, courts historically scoffed at the idea of screening in the entire stadium to virtually eliminate spectator injury, acknowledging that “the perils of the game are not so great as to require such extreme precaution.” The Baseball Rule emerged to balance club liability with spectators’ desire for an unimpeded view.”

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For more information on how the law affects the sports facilities industry, subscribe to Sports Facilities and the Law.



Matt Nanninga focuses his practice on general liability tort defense. He has advised clients ranging from large corporations to small business owners on claims handling, loss mitigation, and general defense strategy.  He has served as lead counsel for his clients in both state and federal courts throughout Georgia.  Matt has experience handling cases in numerous industries, including: major indoor/outdoor sports arenas and racetracks, amusement facilities, hotel and hospitality entities, restaurants and nightclubs in the food and beverage industry, national restaurant franchises, gas stations and convenience stores, as well as apartment communities facing high exposure negligent security claims. 

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Alisha Dickie joined Drew, Eckl & Farnham, LLP in 2019 and focuses her civil litigation practice on premises liability and insurance defense.  Alisha practiced with a firm in Marietta prior to joining Drew, Eckl & Farnham, LLP. During law school, Alisha received the Faculty Award for Legal Writing as well as five CALI Awards in legal research, legal writing, and law and economics.  After law school, Alisha served as the law clerk for the Honorable J. P. Boulee in DeKalb County Superior Court.

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