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Saving Fans from Themselves (and Foul Balls): Class Action Suit Aims to Raise Nets and Take Down the Baseball Rule

On July 16, 2015 by Schnader

“The slaughter pen” is the early 1900s term to describe the seating area behind baseball’s home plate before the age of nets or fencing shielded them from wild pitches and foul balls. While the game has come a long way since then, a team of class action lawyers drew inspiration from the term in a civil class action filed against Major League Baseball in the Northern District of California. The attorneys argue that in today’s game of faster and stronger players, compounded with more distractions at the park and in the palms of fans’ hands, the “slaughter pen” now stretches far beyond just behind home plate and now encompasses everything between the foul poles. The complaint refers to all season ticket holders in this area as the “Danger Zone” class of plaintiffs. Momentum is arguably in plaintiffs’ favor, given the enthusiasm in the 24-hour news cycle for showing fans acting outrageously to injuries related to foul balls, or worse yet, the image of an ambulance stretcher in the stands. More than a few incidents have garnered significant press in the first half of the 2015 baseball season.

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