A player from an opposing team is suing the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox and city of Marysville due to brain injuries suffered as a result of allegedly tripping on a mat in the field of play during a game this summer.
San Francisco County resident Akheem Lewis was playing for the Palo Alto Oaks against the Gold Sox at then Colusa Casino Stadium (now Hard Rock Park) on June 10. According to the complaint filed on behalf of Lewis, while running to catch a ball in left field, Lewis’s foot tripped over a mat that was left in the field of play and he fell headfirst into an unpadded fence/wall next to the mat. The impact with the fence resulted in right hemispheric brain stroke, the dissection of his carotid artery, traumatic brain injury and other neurological injuries which will require lifetime medical care, the complaint said.
“You can’t have tripping hazards seems like a pretty basic concept,” said Olivier Taillieu, the attorney representing Lewis.
YCM Baseball Group, LLC, the organization that owns the Gold Sox, Thomas Lininger, John Cassidy Jr., Al Montna, the city of Marysville, and 50 anonymous individuals were named as defendants in the complaint filed in Sacramento County Superior Court on Nov. 3. The plaintiff alleges the following complaints for damages.
General negligence by the Gold Sox
The complaint said that YCM, Lininger, Cassidy, Montna and 25 of the 50 unnamed individuals were under a duty to make the playing surface safe for Lewis and all other players. The defendants’ negligence in operating, managing and maintaining the field resulted in the mat being left on the field, it not being removed, which caused the injuries, the plaintiffs alleged.
“As a direct and proximate result of the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of the defendants, and each of them, inclusive, plaintiff has been hurt and injured to his body and person,” the complaint read. “Plaintiff suffered serious and permanent injuries all of which have caused, and continue to cause pain, suffering and nervousness which were a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the defendants, and each of them, inclusive.”
Premises liability of the Gold Sox
YCM and the other defendants should have known that having a tripping hazard on the field would be dangerous given players would be running at high speed while looking in the air for baseballs, according to the complaint.
“Anytime you have young baseball players running at high rates of speed near unexpected tripping hazards that are dangerously close to hard, sharp and unpadded fences, the likelihood of harm is extremely high and the seriousness of such harm is extremely severe,” the complaint read.
It is alleged that the defendants should have known about the tripping hazard through the usual inspection of the field. The defendants failed to do such an inspection, according to the complaint.
Dangerous condition of public property
This section names the city of Marysville and the 25 other anonymous individuals. When this incident occurred, the field was owned or controlled by the city of Marysville. The complaint alleged that the field was in a “dangerous condition” at the time of the incident and that the city had the ability to prevent, fix or guard against the dangerous condition.
“That negligent or wrongful conduct of the city of Marysville’s employee acting within the scope of employment created the dangerous condition; or that the city of Marysville had notice of the dangerous condition for a long enough time to have protected against it,” the complaint read.
Marysville City Manager Jim Schaad said the city is aware of the lawsuit but that the city does not typically comment on pending/potential litigation.
Lininger said he is one of the managing partners of YCM and its legal counsel. He said Monday that he and the Gold Sox had not heard about a lawsuit and he had not received a summons and complaint about an injury at the ballpark.
“We have advised our insurance carrier of the claim,” Lininger said in an email. “They will be handling the claim and the legal defense of any lawsuit.”
Lininger had no further comment about the lawsuit or its allegations.
Taillieu could not say how much his client would be seeking in the lawsuit because it is too early in the process. He said the full picture of Lewis’s medical care is not known. He said Lewis has already incurred medical expenses but will continue to do so.
“He suffered a catastrophic injury ... I can tell you it’s very significant,” Taillieu said of the damages he is seeking.
The next step in the legal process is serving all the defendants followed by the discovery process, which includes obtaining documents and conducting depositions. Taillieu said it typically takes 18-24 months from filing to a jury trial.