A dugout paramedic hit by a foul ball during last year’s American League Championship Series is suing the Houston Astros, who were hosting the game, for more than $1 million in damages, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.
In the lawsuit, Brian Cariota, a paramedic with the Harris County Emergency Corps, reportedly alleges he was left unprotected in the Astros dugout because the team eschewed netting so it wouldn’t interfere with their sign-stealing.
From the Houston Chronicle:
“Netting would have partially obstructed the view of an opposing catcher’s signs,” the suit said. “If you are stealing signs from the opposing catcher, you need a clear unobstructed view. The last thing a team engaging in sign stealing wants is a safety net protecting the dugout which may even partially obstruct the view of the opposing catcher’s signs.”
Cariota reportedly sustained a traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage along the left frontal lobe and a fracture of the left superior orbital wall when hit by an errant line drive off the bat of Astros outfielder Michael Brantley. The lawsuit claims he has permanent vision loss due to retina damage, and still experiences blurry vision and post-concussion syndrome.
The ball was reportedly traveling at 108 mph.
The Astros are reportedly the only named defendant in the lawsuit, but it is alleged that former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were both fired during the offseason for their culpability in the team’s infamous cheating scandal, played a direct part in making sure there was no netting:
“Luhnow and Hinch, as well as others in control of the Houston Astros, made sure that no safety netting was positioned in an area that would obstruct the line of sight of the opposing catcher’s signs,” the suit read.
“This was a conscious decision made by the defendant (the Astros) who had subjective awareness of the extreme risk associated with its conduct and decision. The decision was made in deliberate disregard for the rights, safety and welfare of others including the plaintiff (Cariota).”
These are quite the allegations to levy against a baseball team, and the Astros’ reputation following their illegal sign-stealing scandal isn’t going to garner them much sympathy. The lawsuit, however, as reported seems to be facing some notable obstacles.
The most obvious is that while MLB determined the Astros cheated during their World Series year in 2017 as well part of 2018, MLB found no such violations during the 2019 season, when the foul ball incident occurred. The team also reportedly stole signs via illegal use of a camera in center field, not a view from the dugout.
It’s also worth noting MLB dugouts typically don’t have protective netting beyond the front walls of the dugout. The lawsuit, does note an incident last May in which a toddler was struck by a foul ball and reportedly sustained permanent brain damage. The incident prompted the Astros to significantly extend their foul ball netting, which the lawsuit treats like an admission of the danger of foul balls:
“This history shows that the Astros were keenly aware of the hazard created by foul balls,” the suit read. “Unfortunately, the Astros made a decision that they would not provide a safety net to protect workers in the dugout.”
However the lawsuit plays out, it’s one more piece of litigation the team has faced as a result of the scandal that rocked baseball and tainted its lone World Series championship. Other parties that have sued the team are a group of Astros season-ticket holders, a group of daily fantasy players and former MLB pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who claimed a bad outing against the team while it was cheating led to the end his career.
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