Fan partially blinded by foul ball gets rare hearing - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Fan partially blinded by foul ball gets hearing in Ind. Supreme Court

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A woman who was blinded in one eye by a foul ball will get a hearing before Indiana's highest court. She blames the ball club for her injuries.

An Illinois law passed in the 1990's gives teams like the Cubs and Sox immunity from damages for foul balls, but this case involves the Gary South Shore Railcats, a minor league team, and a fan, whose injury was anything but minor.

Four years ago, Juanita DeJesus was at Opening Day for the Railcats. She was sitting along the first base side, when a batter fouled one into the stands, hitting her in the face. She eventually lost her left eye due to the injury.

"From the time of the accident, I find it hard to watch a ball game," DeJesus says. "You know just the sound of a bat cracking and a baseball is, I can't stand it, I can't tolerate it.

"I still get the pain in my left eye where my eye is missing," she continues.

DeJesus claimed the club was negligent for not having the screen behind home plate extending further down the first base line. Such lawsuits rarely succeed. Some states, including Illinois, have given ball clubs immunity. In other states, courts have decided that fans assume the risk of injury when they attend a ball game.

DeJesus admitted seeing warning signs at the ballpark, and the Railcats won the case before the court of appeals. But now, the Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether she's entitled to a full trial.

"With great gratitude, we're very happy they accepted the transfer. Juanita's a lovely lady who had an unfortunate accident and certainly still suffers the effects of it," DeJesus' attorney Walter Alavarez explains.

Alvarez suggests that since the Railcats do have a screen protecting the cars in the parking lot beyond left field, putting one down the first base line to protect the fans should have made sense.

The Railcats declined to talk on camera, but told us, "We agree with the Court of Appeals ruling, and expect that the Supreme Court will affirm."

Fans of the Railcats game sided with the ball club.

"If there are foul balls hit, you got to be aware of them and keep an eye on them," one person said.

"I think you know that when you go in, that there's balls and bats that can fly out into the stands," another added.

An author named Bob Gorman has written a book on injuries and deaths in baseball. He says it's very unusual for a case like this to get to a state supreme court and that there are no public records on how many people get hurt by foul balls every year.

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