The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

After twelve hours of deliberation, a jury in Lewis and Clark County, Montana recently sided with the parents of former Miles City American Legion baseball pitcher Brandon Patch, who died after being struck in the temple by a batted ball in a 2003 baseball game against the Helena Senators. Hillerich & Bradsby Co., an aluminum bat manufacturer best known for their Louisville Slugger bats, was found liable for Patch’s death because it failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of the bat used by a Helena Senators batter. Hillerich & Bradsby Co.’s attorneys argued any other bat would not have hit the ball any differently; in fact, they claimed most bats on the market would have stuck the ball even harder and that Patch’s death was a tragic accident. The Patch family’s attorneys, however, argued Brandon only had 378 milliseconds to respond to the batted ball, whereas most bats on average give 400 milliseconds to respond. The bat manufacturer was ordered to pay $792,000 to Patch’s estate. The funds were allocated to cover the earnings Patch would have made had he lived, and the pain he suffered for four hours after the injury before ultimately dying. Another $58,000 was awarded to Patch’s parents for funeral expenses and their mental grief.

Aluminum bats have faced a lot of scrutiny due to their internal wall structure and because their weight is more evenly distributed than wooden ones, making them easier to swing harder and faster. A third decision made in the suit was that the bat was not defective, therefore making it more dangerous like the Patch family attorneys claimed. The Patch family said the suit was never about the money but was to get adequate warning about the dangers of these bats so something like this will not happen again. They have also started to advocate for the use of wooden bats. Brandon Patch’s baseball team reverted to wooden bats after his death.


  1. Gravatar for Clear thinker

    Money chasing scum. Of course it is about the money. Liars. Who is more worthless to society these greedy parents, or the stupid jury.

  2. Gravatar for alphamale11

    This has to be a joke. A 22 millisecond difference in arrival time of a baseball is worth 3/4 of a million dollars? How much does the ambulance chaser make for pushing this travesty? It is a sad event that the young person was killed but that occurs in sports or many other activites. I wouldn't trust that jury at a pie contest.

  3. Gravatar for Just a Guy

    I'm pretty sure he couldn't even have ducked in 220 milliseconds, let alone 22. Epic fail for sanity, nice win for the ambulance-chasers. If aluminum bats are so dangerous, why did the league and team allow them?

  4. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Mr. Clear Thinker,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comments. I suspect the parents of a lost child may feel differently, but I understand that there are those out there that feel differently. Also, there are many that believe that corporate interests, and those with large amounts of money, should be protected at all costs.

    Greg Webb

  5. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Mr. Alphamale11:

    Presumably, this jury out West, in a normally conservative area, heard compelling testimony about these bats, and perhaps even expert testimony about human reaction times. They heard facts that are not revealed in the articles, and they made the best decision they could under the law. Further, with regard to juries, we trust them, in most states, to sentence criminal defendants to death sentences, so I do not see why a jury cannot decide cases about civil damages.

    Greg Webb

  6. Gravatar for Ben Glass

    This is, of course, a tragedy for the family but this verdict is terrible.

    Failure to warn?

    Failure to warn who? The pitcher? The batter? The league? And what would a warning have done?

    How could the failure to "warn", without proof that someone would have listened to the "warning" have prevented the pitcher's death.

    I can't believe this verdict will be upheld on appeal. Again, a huge tragedy for this family but I just don't see how a label would have made a difference...short of the league outright banning the bats...and even then....miliseconds???

  7. Gravatar for Facebook User

    Sad story, really shocking verdict. I used to play softball and I have been hit with bats and balls and everything else. I wonder how far assumption of risk went in this trial. This case should not have gone to trial. It is tragic to say the least but I agree that a message on the bat would not have prevented this. Phillip Morris puts warning labels on cigarettes, and they have outsold everybody. Cause and effect, pppsshhh.

  8. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Mr. Glass,

    Thank you for reading the story. I am speculating that the failure to warn was with regard to the players; i.e., using these bats may produce high(er)? speed, hit balls that may cause harm to players. Good questions though.


  9. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Ms. Minus,

    Thank you for commenting. A child may not be able to assume a risk of which he is unaware. But, that being said, you pose some good questions that I suspect the court, the attorneys, and the jury had to address.

    Greg Webb

Comments are closed.

Of Interest