MLB Wins Partial Dismissal in Stadium Netting Suit

MLB partially won its motion to dismiss the class action lawsuit over stadium netting. A California federal judge recently ruled that the court lacked authority over the claims against out-of-state MLB teams.

The lawsuit arose in July 2015, when named plaintiff Gail Payne brought suit against all 30 MLB teams and Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred. The complaint alleged that MLB failed to protect fans with proper safety netting. Payne, a longtime season ticket holder of the Oakland A’s, claimed she once had to duck from a flying foul ball; however, she has never been hit with a ball or pieces of a shattered bat. The plaintiffs seek an injunction requiring MLB to increase safety netting in all ballparks.

MLB moved to dismiss the suit on several grounds. MLB argued that the California court lacked jurisdiction over out-of-state teams. In addition to jurisdiction, MLB claimed that the plaintiffs failed to establish a claim for injunctive relief because they failed to identify “a single concrete injury” and claims of “future injury” are insufficient. MLB also argued the suit should be dismissed because the spectators could have chosen seats behind protective netting.

The court agreed with the MLB in regards to jurisdiction and ruled that out-of-state teams could not be sued in California. The court determined that the plaintiffs failed to prove that out-of-state teams exert any control over California stadiums or in-state activities. The court further stated that out-of-state teams cannot be sued in California even though they travel to California for games and receive revenue from games played in California.

The plaintiffs don’t appear to have lost any momentum after this slight loss as their attorney stated they will pursue the out-of-state teams in their own jurisdictions.

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