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Boy’s brain damaged by errant pitch at Angel Stadium

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A 6-year-old boy suffered a fractured skull and brain damage when he was accidentally hit by a baseball thrown by a Los Angeles Angels player who was warming up before a game at the team’s stadium in 2019, according to a lawsuit announced Thursday that blames the injury on team negligence.

The lawsuit brought by the boy’s mother, Beatrice Galaz, said the team should have more nets along the pitch and players should not throw balls during warm-ups into areas where spectators could be hit, especially when the team encourages fans to arrive early to try out. meet players.

On Sept. 15, 2019, his son Bryson walked with his father in the front row of stadium seats toward the dugout, where players were meeting fans and signing autographs more than an hour and a half before the game, the lawsuit said. He was hit in the side of the head when pitcher Keynan Middleton, warming up on the field, threw a ball to another Angels player who missed the catch.

Bryson was rushed to the emergency room in critical condition and sent to a children’s hospital for monitoring for 2½ days, said Kyle Scott, the family’s attorney. Since then, Bryson has done well academically, but has difficulty paying attention and interacting socially, and medical exams show abnormal brain activity, raising concerns about his longer-term development, said Scott.

“We were relieved that he survived, but since that day he has struggled in school,” Galaz, of Anaheim, said in a statement released Thursday. “He’s just not the same anymore.”

The Angels declined to comment on the dispute.

“No party has contacted us regarding this lawsuit,” Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said. “We were only made aware of this by the media, so we are unable to comment at this time.”

The April 1 lawsuit was announced on Major League Baseball’s opening day at a press conference near Angel Stadium, where the Angels were scheduled to host the Houston Astros later in the day.

Getting a baseball at an MLB game is a big deal for any fan, but it can come at a cost. Although very rare, fans do occasionally suffer serious injuries from bullets or even bats flying into the stands. Angel Stadium and other major league parks have expanded protective netting in recent years to increase safety.

In 2015, MLB encouraged teams to have nets or screens that extend in a semicircle between the ends of dugouts closest to home plate. That push grew in 2017, and on Opening Day 2018, all 30 ballparks had nets that reached at least that far.

In late 2019, the league said some teams would extend the net. It was the same year that a 79-year-old woman died four days after being hit in the head by a foul ball that sailed over a protective net at Dodger Stadium. It was believed to be the first ball foul at an MLB stadium since 1970, when another Dodger Stadium fan was killed.

Scott, the family’s attorney, said that since Bryson’s injury, Angel Stadium had extended the net a section beyond the dugout, but that wouldn’t have prevented the accident. Extending it further down the foul line and having players warm up away from spectators could have made the difference, he said.

“It was negligent on the part of the defenders to warm up their pitcher Keynan Middleton and prepare for the scheduled game by throwing at high speed outside the bullpen and into an area where an errant pitch could strike a bystander such as the plaintiff,” the lawsuit said. .

Middleton, who is not the target of this lawsuit, left the Angels as a free agent after the 2020 season when the club refused to offer him a new contract. He pitches in the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league system.

After the incident, Middleton went to check on a crying Bryson and the team called for help. An Angels official emailed, but when the family asked for help with medical bills, no one responded, Scott said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and coverage for medical expenses and lost future income.

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Associated Press writer Greg Beacham contributed to this report.

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