Metal Bats at Issue in Little League Lawsuit

14-yr-old Steven Domalewski's family is suing a metal bat manufacturer.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:16 AM

May 19, 2008 — -- The family of a 14-year-old boy is suing a bat manufacturer, a Little League affiliate and a local retailer after a batted ball hit the boy and left him disabled. The suit alleges that all three entities were aware of the dangers of metal bats.

Steven Domalewski, who was 12 when the accident occurred in 2006, was pitching for his baseball team in Wayne, N.J., when a line drive hit him in the chest and sent him into cardiac arrest, causing him to stop breathing for as long as 20 minutes, according to a statement released by his family.

Having spent weeks in the hospital in a coma and on life support, the teen now has extensive brain injury because of the lack of oxygen in the aftermath of the accident. Steven is confined to a wheelchair and needs constant medical attention.

The Domalewski family is suing Hillerich & Bardsby, the parent company of Louisville Slugger, which manufacturers the kind of bat used in the accident. Also named are the local Sports Authority, where the bats are sold, and the New Jersey State Little League, which uses the bats. The family claims that all three were aware of the inherent dangers of the aluminum bats, according to the complaint obtained by

The lawyer for the Domalewski family, Ernest Fronzuto, said in a statement that the high-performance, metal bat used during the game "presented an unreasonable risk of injury" and didn't give Domalewski enough time to respond to the ball.

The bat manufacturer, however, disputes the claim, telling that injuries like Steven's are not only rare but have occurred from thrown or pitched balls far more than from batted balls.

"We sympathize with Steven and his family, but our bat is not to blame for his injury," Hillerich & Bradsby said in a statement.

Calls to the Sport Authority were not immediate returned.

Stephen D. Keener, the president and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball said in a statement that "it would not be appropriate for us to specifically comment" but "Little League stands by its safety record, and we continue to make the safety of all Little Leaguers our highest priority."

Critics of metal bats the Domalewski family included argue that an "arms race" among bat manufacturers has increased the ball's speed off the bats and "changed the dynamics of the game" for the worse.