Pittsburgh woman injured by PNC Park foul ball sues Pirates, MLB

Matthew Santoni
| Friday, March 11, 2016, 3:51 p.m.

A Shadyside woman is suing Major League Baseball, the Pirates and the Sports & Exhibition Authority because a foul ball smacked her in the back of her head as she was taking her seat behind home plate last year.

Wendy Camlin and her attorney, Mark Gordon, filed the civil lawsuit Friday. In it, they identify Camlin as the fan struck by a foul ball off the bat of Chicago Cubs player Starlin Castro in the second inning April 20.

Camlin received medical attention during a 23-minute delay in the game before being removed on a stretcher and taken to UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland by ambulance. She was treated and released by the next day, authorities said.

“(Chris Coghlan, who was in the on-deck circle) said he thought the ball hit the wall. That's how loud it was,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the post-game news conference. “And the umpires said the same thing. It was that definitive of a hard, packing sound. ... The couple guys that did see it said it was pretty horrid.”

The lawsuit says Camlin suffered a concussion, traumatic brain injury, migraines, neck pain, tinnitus, anxiety and other symptoms as a result of the foul ball, which she said hit her in the back of the head because she was facing away from play and following an usher's instructions as she took her seat in Section 16, Row A.

“Due to the ongoing litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” said Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki.

Representatives of MLB and the SEA did not return requests for comment.

The “lightweight, flexible” netting behind home plate, the suit said, was either improperly installed or inadequate to prevent the ball from traveling far enough into the aisle to hit Camlin as she shimmied past other fans in the front row.

In addition, the ushers should not have directed her to her seat during play when she was at risk, the lawsuit said.

The league responded to several fan injuries such as Camlin's by issuing recommendations in December that all clubs should extend the netting up to 70 feet from home plate to protect fans from flying fouls or lost bats. But the recommendations didn't mention strengthening or replacing the netting behind home plate.

A 2013 Pennsylvania Superior Court decision upheld the so-called “baseball rule” in the state, which limits sports leagues' liability for injuries to their fans if they have taken reasonable precautions to screen the most dangerous areas.

The fine print on the back of Pirates tickets includes warnings that the holder assumes the risk of being “injured by thrown or broken bats, thrown or batted balls and objects thrown into the stands for entertainment purposes,” and agrees that the league and team are not responsible for such injuries.

Camlin is seeking damages in excess of $35,000 from each of the defendants.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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