A California man filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Angels and former outfielder Juan Lagares this week after Lagares allegedly hurled into the stands a ball that hit the man in the face and left him blind at a game last summer.
David Mermelstein filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court, according to the OCRegister. Mermelstein, 55, said he was struck in the face at Angel Stadium last June and that the ball crushed his left eyeball and left him blind in that eye.
Mermelstein was at the Angels’ game against the Kansas City Royals on June 22, 2022, with some friends. After Lagares caught the third out to end the sixth inning of the game, Mermelstein said he looked down to eat some peanuts. Lagares, the lawsuit reads, then turned and “randomly hurled the ball into the stands at high velocity.”
Mermelstein, who was sitting in the outfield bleachers, heard the crowd yell around him and looked up right as the ball hit him on the left side of his face, per the lawsuit.
He was taken to a local hospital immediately for emergency surgery but was left permanently blind in his left eye and “disfigured.” His lawyers said he faces the risk of total blindness in the future, as his left eye was his “good eye,” and he still deals with daily, stabbing pain.
“This was a man who was already at one of the lowest points of his life,” said his lawyer, Rob Marcereau, who noted that Mermelstein’s father had recently died before last year’s game, via the OCRegister. “He went to the Angels game to get his mind off his troubles, and what should have been a good time and a diversion for him ended up being one of the most horrific experiences of his life.”
While MLB tickets warn attendees that they assume the risk of being struck by baseballs or bats, Mermelstein argued that Lagares should have “reasonably and safely” handed out the souvenir baseball. Instead, he allegedly “threw the ball with such force and velocity that it traveled over the outfield wall, up 10 rows and smashed into the eye socket of an unsuspecting fan.”
The Angels, the lawsuit said, “were aware of the increasing danger to fans caused by baseballs entering the stands — not just from batted balls but from balls thrown into the stands by players.”
The lawsuit also cited a previously settled lawsuit filed against the Angels by the family of a boy who was hit by a wild throw at a 2019 game. The 6-year-old sustained a skull fracture after being hit by the baseball in the stands.
Lagares, 34, is currently a free agent. He spent two seasons with the Angels after an eight-year run with the New York Mets.