Dalton v. Jones, 260 Ga.App. 791, 581 S.E.2d 360 (Ga. App., 2003)
Plaintiff, Jacqueline Dalton attended the Atlanta Braves game on June 6, 2000 at Turner Field against the Toronto Blue Jays. She claimed to have been hit by a baseball that had been thrown into the stands at the end of the inning by center fielder Andruw Jones. Ms. Dalton was not watching the field because she was getting up from her seat, intending to get a pop from the concession stand. She claimed to have sustained a permanent eye injury and facial disfigurement.
Ms. Dalton alleged that the Braves were negligent in failing to provide her with sufficient protection and failing to properly train their players as to the potential dangers of tossing baseballs into the crowd. She claimed that Mr. Jones should have warned her that he was going to be throwing the ball into the stands and should have yelled something akin to “fore” before tossing the ball.
The Braves and Andruw Jones countered that Ms. Dalton had assumed the risk of injury from baseballs coming into the stands and that she failed to exercise care for her own safety.
The trial court dismissed Ms. Dalton’s claims so she appealed.
Andruw Jones and the Braves. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case against both defendants.
The courts relied on the holding in a case from 1949, Hunt v. Thomasville Baseball Co., which held that a person who buys a ticket for a baseball game and chooses to sit in an unprotected section of the stands voluntarily assumes the risks of baseballs coming into the stands. Ms. Dalton confirmed that she had not sat in the protected area of the park and was not keeping a close lookout on the field at the time of the occurrence.
The court declined to require a duty to warn on the game of baseball finding that “no Georgia case has ever held that a warning is required before a baseball player throws a ball.” Furthermore, they held that whether a ball was thrown in the course of the game or between innings had no legal significance because the “throw occurred during a time which was necessary to the playing of the game, during which time the Plaintiff had assumed the risk of injury from bats, balls, and other missiles.”