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Major League Baseball Is Getting Sued for Flying Balls and Bats

Baseball fans have started a lawsuit against Major League Baseball claiming it did too little to protect fans from fast-moving foul balls and splintered bats. In particular, the suit cited what it said was a need to add netting far down the first- and third-base lines.

The lead plaintiff, Gail Payne, is an Oakland A's fan who feels vulnerable because her seats in Section 211 in the second deck at O.co Coliseum are not protected by netting. A fan beside her was injured by a foul ball, her lawyer said.

The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Northern California, said that a number of factors had increased the risk of physical harm to fans in unprotected areas: pitchers who throw harder; bats that splinter more easily; distractions like video monitors and Wi-Fi that leave fans less time to react to a foul ball; and a leaguewide initiative to accelerate the pace of play.

"Spectators have no protective equipment," the lawsuit said. "They are not as familiar with the game as professional players. Some in exposed sections are sitting closer to the action than the batter is to the pitcher."

The lawsuit cited a 2014 study by Bloomberg News that said 1,750 spectators were injured annually at M.L.B. games.

And, the lawsuit said, baseball's conduct in not extending netting is "particularly egregious" because it installed netting in front of dugouts and required first- and third-base coaches to wear helmets.

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