The verdict is in on the case involving Johnathan Nathans, the former Bridgeport Bluefish catcher who was injured during a game when former major leaguer Jose Offerman infamously charged the mound while swinging his bat after being hit by a pitch. Nathans was awarded $940k by a jury in Connecticut federal court. While Offerman was found to be liable for Nathan’s injuries, his team, the Long Island Ducks, were not held liable. Offerman’s attorney reportedly is planning to appeal the verdict.
Here are a few observations on the case:
- On-field behavior is typically not actionable unless the behavior transcends the normal boundaries of the sport. The video of Offerman’s behavior clearly shows that he crossed those boundaries.
- Although Nathans brought suit against Offerman’s team, it seems difficult to hold the team responsible for Offerman’s attack unless the team had reason to believe that he might behave that way, or unless he was instructed to charge the mound.
- The severity of Nathans’ injury was an important consideration for the jury in awarding damages. Nathans’ post-baseball accomplishments – including running marathons, completing law school and becoming a trial lawyer – were used by the defense in an attempt to minimize damages.