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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

He told a kid to slide. Then he got sued.

John Suk sits with shoulders slouched and his head down at the defendant’s table in Courtroom 301, a stuffy wood-paneled space inside the Somerset County judicial complex. The 31-year-old middle school teacher scribbles in a notebook as his reputation is shredded.

The plaintiff’s attorneys in Civil Docket No. L-000629-15 have spent two full days portraying the co-defendant as an inattentive and unqualified lout. He is, they argue, a villain who destroyed the future of a teenager he was supposed to protect.

“He must be held accountable for what he did,” one of the plaintiff’s two attorneys tells jurors during opening arguments.

The attacks intensify when Suk takes the witness stand to defend himself on a split-second decision he made seven years earlier. He is accused of taking a reckless course of action that showed a callous disregard for another person’s safety.

A long read, but one of interest in several different regards.

 

QLE Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:19 AM | 89 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: youth baseball

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   1. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 13, 2019 at 07:23 AM (#5900745)
If this JV baseball coach is found liable for telling a player to slide, there's nothing to stop the dominoes from falling everywhere around us.

In short: We’re all f---ed.


Too many lawyers.
   2. bfan Posted: November 13, 2019 at 08:13 AM (#5900750)

Too many lawyers.


Nope. Too many juries eager for income distribution (never understanding that insurance companies, which collect premiums for risks, are essentially, them) and too many judges unwilling to properly define standards of care and what the law requires of people.

We live in a lottery world today, and the goal, if you get hurt in any manner and for any reason (even if in the ordinary course or perhaps because of your own stupidity), is to try and hit the jackpot with quitting money awarded by a bored and hopefully bitter at the world jury. No reduction in the number of lawyers is going to put an end to nonsense like this.
   3. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: November 13, 2019 at 08:40 AM (#5900756)
So, the first thing we do is kill all the juries?
   4. villageidiom Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:06 AM (#5900761)
No reduction in the number of lawyers is going to put an end to nonsense like this.
If a plaintiff is strident enough and is willing to throw cash at this, they will always find an attorney to take the case, no matter how few attorneys there are.

I wasn't at the game described in TFA but I can't imagine a scenario in which the severity of the kid's injuries were in the realm of expectation for what he was told to do. I don't doubt the severity of his injuries; I'm just saying I doubt anyone with experience exercising reasonable care in that situation would have thought the injuries he actually suffered were a possible outcome, let alone a likely outcome, of sliding in that scenario.

And if that's the case, then the problem is an overzealous plaintiff, not the lawyer.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:25 AM (#5900772)
Nope. Too many juries eager for income distribution (never understanding that insurance companies, which collect premiums for risks, are essentially, them) and too many judges unwilling to properly define standards of care and what the law requires of people.

We live in a lottery world today, and the goal, if you get hurt in any manner and for any reason (even if in the ordinary course or perhaps because of your own stupidity), is to try and hit the jackpot with quitting money awarded by a bored and hopefully bitter at the world jury. No reduction in the number of lawyers is going to put an end to nonsense like this.


If you went to the English rule where the loser pays all the attorneys fees, you'd see a lot less of this. I'd also add a codicil that if the plaintiff can't pay, their lawyer is liable.

Also, the judge should have thrown this case out on day one.
   6. DL from MN Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:48 AM (#5900778)
I don't understand the theory of offering a lifespan of damages. Who the hell has all good body parts until the day they die?
   7. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:51 AM (#5900779)
This sounds like an absurdity, of course, but let's pretend that the coach were indeed plainly negligent and asked the player to do something dangerous and useless, for example, slide with only 2 feet to go and with no play at the base. Then should he be liable?
   8. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:54 AM (#5900784)
If you went to the English rule where the loser pays all the attorneys fees, you'd see a lot less of this. I'd also add a codicil that if the plaintiff can't pay, their lawyer is liable.


That would be a horrible system, much worse than we have now.

Also, the judge should have thrown this case out on day one.


Agree.
   9. winnipegwhip Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5900787)
I once was sued as a coach. Father sued me over failure to play his child enough at the national championships. His child was a very good player but injured. Our first practice at nationals our coaching staff was focused on whether this kid was physically able to play on the infield. The kid was very good and certainly helped our chances to compete but we concluded the player's ankle injury was to serious to run. The player could pitch and shut down the number one team for a huge tourney changing upset but I still got sued.

Fortunately like Snapper suggests, the judge threw the case out of court.
   10. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5900788)
The judge did dismiss the case on the pleadings. He was reversed on appeal.

snappers proposal, like most others like it, has the effect of reducing access of the poor to civil remedies. That’s a bad thing, especially since they disproportionately suffer injuries as a result of others’ actions. Better to have a couple of stupid cases like this than block deserving plaintiffs from redress because no lawyer will take their case.
   11. pikepredator Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5900789)
I'd rather see Suk sue Mesar's family for putting him through completely needless emotional turmoil for X years. That was a calculated, well-thought out action to Make Someone Pay for a tragic accident.

Whereas Suk was just coaching.

This sounds like an absurdity, of course, but let's pretend that the coach were indeed plainly negligent and asked the player to do something dangerous and useless, for example, slide with only 2 feet to go and with no play at the base. Then should he be liable?


No. But beyond that, in your specific example, I don't think the player could make the decision to slide before he was already at the base. That's the last step, he'd have to respond instantaneously.

Whereas if a coach instructed his player to throw at an opposing player who then got hurt as a result of the beanball . . . I could see the coach being liable.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5900799)
That would be a horrible system, much worse than we have now.

It seems to work OK in England.

snappers proposal, like most others like it, has the effect of reducing access of the poor to civil remedies. That’s a bad thing, especially since they disproportionately suffer injuries as a result of others’ actions. Better to have a couple of stupid cases like this than block deserving plaintiffs from redress because no lawyer will take their case.

No lawyer should take a frivolous case.
   13. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5900805)
No lawyer should take a frivolous case.


Good cases, cases with merit, lose all the time. 50-50 cases or better lose all the time. In a lawyer pays if he loses, I doubt any lawyer would take a case at less than 90%

It seems to work OK in England.


So does their NHS. So do their gun regulations. But I'm told we can't look to England for those examples because our 2 countries are too different.
   14. bfan Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5900815)
So does their NHS.


5 million under-served patients would take exception to this.
   15. bfan Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5900817)
So, the first thing we do is kill all the juries?


If this was meant not in a literal sense but rather in a figurative sense, then it might not be a bad idea.
   16. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5900825)
It seems to work OK in England.


It doesn't. English legal system is much worse than ours in that respect (and lots of other respects too . . . the legal system is one area where we have them clearly beat.)
   17. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5900827)
5 million under-served patients would take exception to this.


you're right. thank goodness we don't have any of those.
   18. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5900828)
No lawyer should take a frivolous case.


We have professional responsibility rules that address that specifically. They are rarely enforced, but it seems to me that's the appropriate avenue for this.

Keep in mind, the summary judgment ruling that threw out this case was overturned on appeal. This was objectively not a frivolous case under NJ law. Frivolous cases don't go to trial.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5900832)
Good cases, cases with merit, lose all the time. 50-50 cases or better lose all the time. In a lawyer pays if he loses, I doubt any lawyer would take a case at less than 90%

Then make it three classes of judgement. "For the plaintiff", "against the plaintiff", and "no merit".

You only pay on the 3rd ruling.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5900833)
We have professional responsibility rules that address that specifically. They are rarely enforced, but it seems to me that's the appropriate avenue for this.

Keep in mind, the summary judgment ruling that threw out this case was overturned on appeal. This was objectively not a frivolous case under NJ law. Frivolous cases don't go to trial.


It's objectively a frivolous case to anyone with a function brain. The appeals court made a terrible decision after the trial judge made the right one. Not like it's the first time an appeals court was wrong.
   21. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5900834)
As Dave Barry so succinctly put it: The SIXTH AMENDMENT guarantees the right to a trial by a jury consisting of people too stupid to get out of jury duty.
   22. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5900840)
It's objectively a frivolous case to anyone with a function brain. The appeals court made a terrible decision after the trial judge made the right one. Not like it's the first time an appeals court was wrong.


That's not what frivolous means. If a majority of an appellate panel would not dismiss on the pleadings, then it is objectively not frivolous, even if the "right" decision would've been to dismiss. "Frivolous" under the law that I'm most familiar with (NY professional responsibility rules) means:

A lawyer’s conduct is “frivolous” for purposes of this Rule if:
(1) the lawyer knowingly advances a claim or defense that is unwarranted
under existing law, except that the lawyer may advance such claim or defense if it
can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal
of existing law;
(2) the conduct has no reasonable purpose other than to delay or prolong
the resolution of litigation, in violation of Rule 3.2, or serves merely to harass or
maliciously injure another; or
(3) the lawyer knowingly asserts material factual statements that are
false.


If a majority of an appellate panel thought the claim could survive under current law if the facts were decided in the plaintiffs favor, and there was substantial insurance coverage to pay a judgement, then not a frivolous claim. Even if ultimately a loser.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5900843)
except that the lawyer may advance such claim or defense if it
can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal
of existing law;
The problem here is that, lawyers being lawyers and in light of the pathological way in which "aggression" is valorized in the profession, this exception completely swallows the rule.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5900845)
If a majority of an appellate panel thought the claim could survive under current law if the facts were decided in the plaintiffs favor, and there was substantial insurance coverage to pay a judgement, then not a frivolous claim. Even if ultimately a loser.

In other words, since a stupid jury might let an undeserving plaintiff and shyster lawyer make a boatload of money off this, the claim isn't frivolous?
   25. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:30 AM (#5900853)
In other words, since a stupid jury might let an undeserving plaintiff and shyster lawyer make a boatload of money off this, the claim isn't frivolous?


No. If (1) a majority of judges (that are selected as better than average judges) thought that, as a matter of law, the facts alleged, if true, would give rise to a claim, (2) the lawyers didn't knowingly state false facts in their papers and (3) there's insurance coverage, so the purpose of the claim was to get money, then taking that together you have a non-frivolous complaint.

There isn't really a boatload of money in this for the lawyers. If you amortize out the hours worked by these lawyers over the judgments they ultimately get, the hourly rate isn't so great. Very few truly frivolous suits get brought in PI because the counsel is only paid on contingency.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5900859)
No. If (1) a majority of judges (that are selected as better than average judges) thought that, as a matter of law, the facts alleged, if true, would give rise to a claim,

And that's absurd on it's face.

How can a coach giving a routine instruction to a player ever give rise to a claim? It's moronic.
   27. . . . . . . Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:41 PM (#5900884)
How can a coach giving a routine instruction to a player ever give rise to a claim? It's moronic.


Well that's the interesting part that the article doesn't make clear. It seems to me the coach is not the appropriate plaintiff so long as he was acting reasonably. The article says that the plaintiffs argued he was not qualified for the job. If so, off the cuff I'd guess the act that might give rise to liability would be the school hiring an unqualified coach, rather than the coach trying to do his job. There must be a reason (likely insurance related) why they didn't sue the school instead.
   28. base ball chick Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5900889)
there wouldn't be any point of suing some middle school teacher if he alone would be paying - they could get, what, maybe $100/month? teachers aren't exactly 1 percenters and this guy wouldn't have insurance to protect himself against a lawsuit like this

   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5900890)
Well that's the interesting part that the article doesn't make clear. It seems to me the coach is not the appropriate plaintiff so long as he was acting reasonably. The article says that the plaintiffs argued he was not qualified for the job. If so, off the cuff I'd guess the act that might give rise to liability would be the school hiring an unqualified coach, rather than the coach trying to do his job. There must be a reason (likely insurance related) why they didn't sue the school instead.

I can't see how his qualifications matter at all. Most of the time in HS baseball we had other players coaching the bases.
   30. QLE Posted: November 13, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5900891)
As Dave Barry so succinctly put it: The SIXTH AMENDMENT guarantees the right to a trial by a jury consisting of people too stupid to get out of jury duty.


Problem is, phrasing it this way implies that the issue at hand is solely one relating to jurors- I've had both prosecutors and defense attorneys remove me from the jury box in the peremptory challenge stage seemingly solely because of my educational qualifications, and my understanding is that this experence is not unusual.

As for two other points: Anyone familiar with British libel law will understand why their legal system is not one to emulate, and proposals to cut back on lawyers as a way to block lawsuits suffer from the fact that, with how glutted the legal profession is in the United States now, it would take decades for such a proposal to be likely to have a practical impact.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5900895)
As for two other points: Anyone familiar with British libel law will understand why their legal system is not one to emulate,

There are good points and bad points about both systems.

The biggest problem with their legal system is a lack of a written Bill of Rights.
   32. Rally Posted: November 13, 2019 at 01:42 PM (#5900903)
It’s kind of buried in the article, but it does say that Suk was never going to be held personally liable. They were trying to get money out of the district and/or it’s insurance carrier. Still crappy for him that he had to be involved in the case for so long.
   33. JAHV Posted: November 13, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5900917)
As a guy who's coached my kids' Little League teams for eight years, this brings up so many troubling possibilities. I've never had formal instruction on coaching; I've gone to a couple local coaching clinics and we have to do a biannual health and safety training that our Little League district puts on, but it's nothing substantial. It's mostly concussion protocol stuff. Should that be required? At what level? Isn't it arguable that it's more important that coaches of YOUNGER kids have more education since those kids are potentially at greater risk? And yet those are the coaches with the least training and experience, often moms or dads who never even played.

What other plays, besides sliding, could carry this sort of liability? Telling a kid to get in front of a ground ball that might take a bad hop and hit him in the face? I know that's a possibility. Telling a kid to get underneath a fly ball? Sending a kid up to bat against a pitcher who is throwing wildly? Telling my second baseman to turn a double play? Of course I've coached my kids on how to do these things as safely as possible, but I know that there's inherent danger in each one.

What about two other scenarios that present a bit more responsibility on the coach.

1. When I was in high school, I was coached as a batter to "take the dose" on an inside pitch, meaning to turn my leading shoulder toward home plate in an attempt to get hit by a pitch. Yes, this also acted as a way to avoid more serious damage from a pitch that could my face or arm or chest and do more damage, but it was, in essence, being told by my coach to deliberately allow myself to get hit by a ball coming upwards of 85 MPH. I have only coached to the 10-year-old level and have told my kids to turn their back WHILE they move away from the pitch (i.e. don't get hit), but should a coach telling his players to get hit fall under this kind of scrutiny?

2. The other side of that coin is the pitcher. Should a coach who has instructed his pitcher to deliberately throw a pitch at the batter be liable in a lawsuit? What about a coach who instructs his pitchers to throw inside?

This was a crazy story to read and even though the suit failed, the fact that it made it that far has put a ton of questions in my mind.
   34. Scott Lange Posted: November 13, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5900922)
Lots of opinions without much law! Here's the actual appeals decision. They conclude that the proper standard for evaluating a claim involving recreational sports is the heightened standard of recklessness, since permitting claims for mere negligence would open a "flood of litigation." Then they sent it back to the trial court to give the plaintiff a chance to present facts that would prove recklessness. Seems reasonable to me.

It's hard to know what went on when the case returned to the trial court since the article focuses on the witnesses and not the law, but the emphasis on the coach's testimony that he decided "two feet away" to give the slide instruction seems to go to "recklessness." For all we know, the coach's deposition was full of terrible testimony for the defense - stuff like "I wasn't paying attention" or "I don't worry about safety" - who knows? It's real hard to say the claim wasn't worthy of being heard by a jury based on the info we have.

I certainly agree that it is a shame when defendants have to spend lots of money defending against weak claims. But it's also a shame when people are harmed by the negligence (or recklessness, or intentional conduct) of others but can't get their day in court. My sense is that the latter is happening a lot more than the former, so I'm reluctant to shift the balance still further against plaintiffs than it already is. The fact is, it's real hard to make things right after people make them wrong, and nobody has a perfect system for doing so, but that doesn't mean screwing over plaintiffs further is the solution.
   35. pikepredator Posted: November 13, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5900923)
Should a coach who has instructed his pitcher to deliberately throw a pitch at the batter be liable in a lawsuit?


That was the first thing that came to my mind, but in that case you're instructing to do something that isn't actually part of baseball proper. I mean yeah beanballs are "part of baseball", but they're not something you need to do as a fundamental part of regular play (and areguably is detrimental to the goal of winning, since you're putting someone on base), whereas swinging/running/sliding/etc. are inherently core to the sport.
   36. Rally Posted: November 13, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5900928)
1. When I was in high school, I was coached as a batter to "take the dose" on an inside pitch, meaning to turn my leading shoulder toward home plate in an attempt to get hit by a pitch. Yes, this also acted as a way to avoid more serious damage from a pitch that could my face or arm or chest and do more damage, but it was, in essence, being told by my coach to deliberately allow myself to get hit by a ball coming upwards of 85 MPH. I have only coached to the 10-year-old level and have told my kids to turn their back WHILE they move away from the pitch (i.e. don't get hit), but should a coach telling his players to get hit fall under this kind of scrutiny?


Never had a coach tell me to do that, learned the technique by watching Don Baylor. I adopted that strategy 100% on my own. I wan't that good a hitter, and I wanted to be on base.

2. The other side of that coin is the pitcher. Should a coach who has instructed his pitcher to deliberately throw a pitch at the batter be liable in a lawsuit? What about a coach who instructs his pitchers to throw inside?


Throw inside? no, not by itself. But a coach who tells a pitcher to intentionally throw at a hitter should absolutely be 100% liable. There's no place for that, especially when kids are involved. If a coach gave an order like that in little league or high school, I'd want to see him banned from coaching permanently. And have his kids taken away.

   37. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:20 PM (#5900938)
Should a coach who has instructed his pitcher to deliberately throw a pitch at the batter be liable in a lawsuit? What about a coach who instructs his pitchers to throw inside?


First one, I can't say, but if I as an umpire overhear that, I will likely take action. If he yells it from the dugout and the pitcher hits the batter, I throw both of them out. If I can intervene before the pitch, I will restrict the coach to the bench and tell him one more tiny infraction and he's gone. As to #2, no, nothing should happen.
   38. jmurph Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5900942)
First one, I can't say, but if I as an umpire overhear that, I will likely take action. If he yells it from the dugout and the pitcher hits the batter, I throw both of them out. If I can intervene before the pitch, I will restrict the coach to the bench and tell him one more tiny infraction and he's gone.

This is a thing that has happened- you've actually experienced coaches yelling to kids to throw at batters? What age range?
   39. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:41 PM (#5900946)
No, I have never heard that.
   40. jmurph Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5900947)
Wooo okay, good! I was worried you were speaking from past experience.
   41. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5900948)
I was responding to a hypothetical with one of my own.
   42. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5900951)
I can't see how his qualifications matter at all. Most of the time in HS baseball we had other players coaching the bases.


This is the interesting part of this to me. Like JAHV I’ve coached youth baseball for many years. While I think the coach shouldn’t held liable here for a lot of reasons I think it does raise the interesting question of how much of little training we are giving people who get pretty substantial roles in our kids lives. There are very real risks in athletics and should someone more qualified than me be doing it? Or at least should I be getting more training?
   43. JAHV Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:57 PM (#5900955)
This is a thing that has happened- you've actually experienced coaches yelling to kids to throw at batters? What age range?


I haven't had this exact one come up (a coach verbally telling his pitcher to hit the batter), but I have heard some doozies from coaches. I warned a coach about his players throwing bats and had him get in my face about how that wasn't a rule and I was out of line. His next player hit the ball, threw the bat, hit the catcher, and I ruled her out. He stormed off the field and lodged a protest with the district about me. He was laughed off, but the point is, there are coaches out there who are very much outright unconcerned about the safety of the players on the field.

I have also (as a parent this time, not as an umpire) been witness to a coach telling his player verbatim "take that kid out" at a soccer match my son participated in. The coach was upset about a foul that went uncalled and apparently felt escalating the situation was the right move.

Never had a coach tell me to do that, learned the technique by watching Don Baylor. I adopted that strategy 100% on my own. I wan't that good a hitter, and I wanted to be on base.


Freshman baseball wasn't incredibly memorable, but I will never forget that practice where our coach literally threw baseballs at us for a half hour. He wasn't throwing his best fastball, but he was throwing just under BP speed, so not lobbing them in there, either. I definitely had some bruises.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5900956)
This is the interesting part of this to me. Like JAHV I’ve coached youth baseball for many years. While I think the coach shouldn’t held liable here for a lot of reasons I think it does raise the interesting question of how much of little training we are giving people who get pretty substantial roles in our kids lives. There are very real risks in athletics and should someone more qualified than me be doing it? Or at least should I be getting more training?

The huge downside of that is if you increase the required qualifications you'll increase the cost, and reduce the accessibility. The risks of youth baseball are really low.
   45. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: November 13, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5900957)
This is interesting. I've been a coach and I've been a trial lawyer.

I agree with #34, you start looking at the legal issues and it makes more sense how we got here. I would almost guess that the appeals court is pretty surprised the case made it this far on demand, they probably expected the trial court to apply the appropriate standard and dismiss, which is a feature not a bug, the appeals court decision actually helps protect coaches from these cases.

Given the general bent around here I'm kinda surprised by these reactions, I would've expected the idea to be pretty popular that it's better for an insurance company to get tagged every now and then than for an equal or less number of people who have legitimate cases to be left hanging. Guess it goes to show how people aren't really that rational about lawyers.
   46. Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: November 13, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5900958)
44 - I completely agree but i think it’s an interesting question to consider.
   47. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 13, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5900961)
The problem here is that, lawyers being lawyers and in light of the pathological way in which "aggression" is valorized in the profession, this exception completely swallows the rule.

The fundamental fix needed isn't changing the rules but enforcement by third parties who are not intertwined with the profession.

Self-policing is a bad idea for anybody with decisional authority: cops, doctors, lawyers, etc.
   48. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: November 13, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5900965)
@47, I'm admittedly biased, but I think this thread here illustrates the problem with that approach. Find me a group of people who will take the job who don't reflexively blame the lawyers. I don't think that's a likely ask.
   49. Bhaakon Posted: November 13, 2019 at 06:03 PM (#5900974)
Considering that there were two stubborn, deep-pocketed parties involved, it was somewhat inevitable that this would end up in court. The main issue I have is that it took 7 years to resolve. It honestly doesn't seem like that complex of a case. This feels like some modern day Le Mis nonsense.

Which is why people of course have a bias against "lawyers" and the system in general. Even if you're ultimately exonerated, it's a seemingly endless morass.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 07:07 PM (#5900979)
Considering that there were two stubborn, deep-pocketed parties involved, it was somewhat inevitable that this would end up in court. The main issue I have is that it took 7 years to resolve. It honestly doesn't seem like that complex of a case. This feels like some modern day Le Mis nonsense.

Which is why people of course have a bias against "lawyers" and the system in general. Even if you're ultimately exonerated, it's a seemingly endless morass.


Right, and witnesses like this poor coach don't get paid to show up like the lawyers and judges do.

I've been disposed for cases involving a previous employer, and I can tell it's infuriating to take a vacation day so you can sit there while a bunch of people billing by the hour ask you moronic questions. I was literally the only one in the room not being paid for being there.
   51. John Northey Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:40 PM (#5901010)
Reading the full article, especially near the end, it seems the wrong choice was made on who to sue. Not the coach, as what he did was logical by most people's viewpoint, but the school for hiring him without ensuring he had coaching experience or training beyond 'he played'. For house leagues and the like that is fine, but for high school baseball where scholarships are earned and potential careers are formed, it isn't good enough.

It was a freak injury, but I wonder how many of these freak injuries happen (not as serious but significant) due to poor training of coaches. You wouldn't hire a teacher who failed college, so why hire a coach with no training on how to coach?

From the bottom of the article...

He doesn’t lay all the blame at Suk’s feet. He wants accountability from administrators who gave him the job without, he believes, enough preparation to keep his son safe. What about the next kid? Who will protect him?

“You have people just taking the extra $8,000 who don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” Rob Mesar says. “Somebody’s got to be responsible. Nobody is!”
   52. Bhaakon Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:28 PM (#5901013)
“You have people just taking the extra $8,000 who don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” Rob Mesar says. “Somebody’s got to be responsible. Nobody is!”


Whether or not that is true in general, the specifics of this case seem immensely poor one to make that argument. We see base coaches make bad calls in the major leagues on a daily basis. That is the nature of split-second decisions. Even if Mr. Suk did call for the slide dangerously late, I have a very, very hard time finding him liable for the freakish injury that resulted to any significant extent. Ire should be reserved for coaches who are actively toxic, not those who merely make a poor judgement call under pressure.
   53. manchestermets Posted: November 14, 2019 at 05:04 AM (#5901023)
5 million under-served patients would take exception to this.


65 million people who didn't seek medical attention because of concern about the cost would probably not take exception to it. Is the NHS perfect? No. Is it terrifying to me to imagine it being replaced by the US healthcare system? #### yeah.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 08:09 AM (#5901026)
Reading the full article, especially near the end, it seems the wrong choice was made on who to sue. Not the coach, as what he did was logical by most people's viewpoint, but the school for hiring him without ensuring he had coaching experience or training beyond 'he played'. For house leagues and the like that is fine, but for high school baseball where scholarships are earned and potential careers are formed, it isn't good enough.

It was a freak injury, but I wonder how many of these freak injuries happen (not as serious but significant) due to poor training of coaches. You wouldn't hire a teacher who failed college, so why hire a coach with no training on how to coach?

From the bottom of the article...

He doesn’t lay all the blame at Suk’s feet. He wants accountability from administrators who gave him the job without, he believes, enough preparation to keep his son safe. What about the next kid? Who will protect him?

“You have people just taking the extra $8,000 who don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” Rob Mesar says. “Somebody’s got to be responsible. Nobody is!”


This is silly. If you require extensive experience, nobody's taking the job for $8,000. If you have to pay somebody $25,000, a lot of kids aren't going to get to play sports because their school is going to cancel the teams.

This kid doesn't get "protection". The next kid doesn't get "protection". They don't deserve "protection". He and his parent assume the risk when he decides to play the sport. Sports injuries happen. Usually they're nobody's fault, and nobody should get paid for a normal accident.

I got my leg broken during wrestling in Middle School gym class. Should I have gotten a check for that? You could certainly argue that the gym teacher wasn't competent to oversee 10-12 pairs of wrestlers.

Accidents happen and should not be the source of a windfall.
   55. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:39 AM (#5901050)
I wish there was a gimmick poster who, whenever an issue came up, would post links to past threads on or around said issue. Like, I have tons to say on the American health system (responsible for both my employment and, arguably, ongoing issues stemming from a lack of / under- coverage as a youth) -- and already have. Too many times.
--
I don't think anyone here is supporting the plaintiff with this case.
--
On litigiousness/our tort system:
I certainly agree that it is a shame when defendants have to spend lots of money defending against weak claims. But it's also a shame when people are harmed by the negligence (or recklessness, or intentional conduct) of others but can't get their day in court. My sense is that the latter is happening a lot more than the former, so I'm reluctant to shift the balance still further against plaintiffs than it already is. The fact is, it's real hard to make things right after people make them wrong, and nobody has a perfect system for doing so, but that doesn't mean screwing over plaintiffs further is the solution.

Agree - we need stronger constraints on bad actors, not to weaken them. IMO, it would be better if more of this was through enforcement of regulations at the federal level, but things are what they are.
   56. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:41 AM (#5901051)
This is silly. If you require extensive experience, nobody's taking the job for $8,000. If you have to pay somebody $25,000, a lot of kids aren't going to get to play sports because their school is going to cancel the teams.


Exactly. This was a JV game. In my experience as an umpire, most JV base coaches are other players.

edit: OK, most if a bid of an exaggeration. Lets go with frequently. In any event, no one except the head coach, if even him, has extensive training on a JV field.
   57. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:44 AM (#5901054)
IANAL, but I am a first year law student, and this kind of thing is like a very basic illustration for the implied primary assumption of risk part of your torts class. In theory, this kind of lawsuit should have no legs.

Though, of course, I am well aware that law school and the real world bear only a passing resemblance.
   58. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5901073)
I am a first year law student
You have my sympathies. Best of luck.
   59. SoSH U at work Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5901075)
Whether or not that is true in general, the specifics of this case seem immensely poor one to make that argument. We see base coaches make bad calls in the major leagues on a daily basis. That is the nature of split-second decisions. Even if Mr. Suk did call for the slide dangerously late, I have a very, very hard time finding him liable for the freakish injury that resulted to any significant extent. Ire should be reserved for coaches who are actively toxic, not those who merely make a poor judgement call under pressure.


Also, the slide sign is not binding.

If the kid is a freshman in high school, he presumably knows the conditions under which a slide would be unsafe.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5901076)
Exactly. This was a JV game. In my experience as an umpire, most JV base coaches are other players.

edit: OK, most if a bid of an exaggeration. Lets go with frequently. In any event, no one except the head coach, if even him, has extensive training on a JV field.


No, it's definitely most. Our JV team had one coach, so did the varsity team. At all times at least 50% of the base coaches were players. Our coaches frequently coached at 3B, but frequently didn't. So, it was either 50% or 100% players which has to average out to most.

At home plate, the guy telling you to slide or not is also always a fellow player (either the on-deck hitter or someone who just scored).
   61. SoSH U at work Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5901080)
Do even major league third-base coaches get any kind of training on the subject? I have never heard of it.
   62. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 14, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5901087)
No, it's definitely most. Our JV team had one coach, so did the varsity team. At all times at least 50% of the base coaches were players. Our coaches frequently coached at 3B, but frequently didn't. So, it was either 50% or 100% players which has to average out to most.


Well, pardon my saying so, but I see about 20 teams a season. Some JV squads have 1 adult coach. Some have more. Most of the time there is an adult at 3B, even if the team has just one. Frequently there is nobody at 1B. Most varsity squads have 2 or more adults. Sometimes there is a kid at 1B, but it's rare.
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5901088)
Well, pardon my saying so, but I see about 20 teams a season. Some JV squads have 1 adult coach. Some have more. Most of the time there is an adult at 3B, even if the team has just one. Frequently there is nobody at 1B. Most varsity squads have 2 or more adults. Sometimes there is a kid at 1B, but it's rare.

Are you talking paid coaches, or volunteers? Because somebody's Dad is not going to have any more training that a player is.

I find it very hard to believe your average varsity baseball team in America has more than one paid coach, much less JV.

If they do, the school should reassess their priorities on what they're spending money one.
   64. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:08 AM (#5901091)
If they do, the school should reassess their priorities on what they're spending money one.


Better they spend money on that than on cultivating brain & bodily damage on the football field.
   65. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5901095)
Are you talking paid coaches, or volunteers? Because somebody's Dad is not going to have any more training that a player is.


Well that is a different subject entirely. You are likely correct that there is only one paid coach per squad. Whether they are trained or not, including the paid coach, I have no idea. In the case of our local school, I know the JV volunteer coach is a very experienced former HS and college coach, but that's just one example.
   66. jmurph Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5901098)
I find it very hard to believe your average varsity baseball team in America has more than one paid coach, much less JV.

If they do, the school should reassess their priorities on what they're spending money one.

High school coaching pay is generally just a fairly small stipend on top of teacher salaries. I'm... god I'm old... more than a decade removed from the experience, but I got something like $500 a semester to be the head freshman/assistant jv/varsity coach. Surely that's gone up since then, and is higher in many better funded school districts. I don't recall my district making any distinctions between the job (head football coach vs assistant soccer coach), I think we all got the same stipend.*

So I'm not saying the money couldn't be better used, but broadly speaking, we're not talking about a lot of money per coach.

*Oh wait I also have experience on the district side of things, and, at least in my experience, that money is paid out of different funding streams than, for instance, a classroom teacher's salary. It's coming from athletic participation fees and sports revenue, etc.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5901099)
Better they spend money on that than on cultivating brain & bodily damage on the football field.

HS football shouldn't exist.

One Saturday afternoon I had to go to the Emergency room. They were wheeling kids in football uniforms in like every 15 minutes. Absurd.
   68. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:39 AM (#5901107)

I once was sued as a coach. Father sued me over failure to play his child enough at the national championships. His child was a very good player but injured. Our first practice at nationals our coaching staff was focused on whether this kid was physically able to play on the infield. The kid was very good and certainly helped our chances to compete but we concluded the player's ankle injury was to serious to run. The player could pitch and shut down the number one team for a huge tourney changing upset but I still got sued.

Fortunately like Snapper suggests, the judge threw the case out of court.


winnipeg, glad to hear it was thrown out. What was he suing for? Lost MLB millions?
   69. Bug Selig Posted: November 14, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5901119)
HS football shouldn't exist.

One Saturday afternoon I had to go to the Emergency room. They were wheeling kids in football uniforms in like every 15 minutes. Absurd.
As the father of an all-state football player who enjoyed that whole ride immensely, I agree. Although if it was really Saturday afternoon, those weren't high school kids.
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5901120)
As the father of an all-state football player who enjoyed that whole ride immensely, I agree. Although if it was really Saturday afternoon, those weren't high school kids.

Could have been late morning. We don't do "Friday Night Lights" in my part of the country.
   71. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: November 14, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5901121)
Friday night football seems to be a southern thing. My HS football in Chicago in the 70's was on Saturdays.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: November 14, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5901127)

Friday night football seems to be a southern thing. My HS football in Chicago in the 70's was on Saturdays.



I think it's expanded gradually over the years. I grew up near Snapper, and most HS varsity games were on Saturdays. And while there still are a lot of games played on Saturdays, more of them have moved to Friday night.

In Indiana, it's almost exclusively played on Friday nights.

   73. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: November 14, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5901131)
Going out on a limb, I assume Saturday high school football is more prevalent in areas where that day's college version tends to be something of an afterthought.
   74. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: November 14, 2019 at 01:01 PM (#5901135)
Too many lawyers.

Nope. Too many juries eager for income distribution

Nope. Too many jurors who've never played baseball.
   75. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: November 14, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5901140)
Although if it was really Saturday afternoon, those weren't high school kids.
From my former life as a prep sportswriter in Northern California, I can help confirm HS football on Saturdays is a thing.
   76. Zonk Has Two Faces, Both Laughing Posted: November 14, 2019 at 01:35 PM (#5901148)
In Indiana, it's almost exclusively played on Friday nights.


Indeed... in fact, I think it is actually exclusively. My HS alma mater is actually playing tomorrow in Indiana's 4A semifinals... I'm considering taking a drive to watch.
   77. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 14, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5901152)
Friday/Saturday is very very regional. Iowa is mostly Friday, Illinois is mostly Saturday, and apparently Indiana is almost entirely Friday.
   78. SoSH U at work Posted: November 14, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5901158)
Indeed... in fact, I think it is actually exclusively.


On very rare occasions, and at non-IHSAA LaLumiere, there will be a game on Saturday afternoons.

   79. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5901163)
In NYC, HS football is a Saturday afternoon thing. Here's one team's schedule from this past season.

In Westchester, it looks like a mix. The small public school I attended back in the day plays on Saturdays, but it looks like the larger schools (i.e. White Plains, Yonkers) play on Friday nights.
   80. SoSH U at work Posted: November 14, 2019 at 02:27 PM (#5901170)
In Westchester, it looks like a mix. The small public school I attended back in the day plays on Saturdays, but it looks like the larger schools (i.e. White Plains, Yonkers) play on Friday nights.


It appears ours (Hen Hud) played exclusively on Friday nights this year. When I was there, we didn't have lights.
   81. Karl from NY Posted: November 14, 2019 at 02:30 PM (#5901171)
I grew up on Long Island. 20 years ago my high school's football games were always Saturdays. Now it looks to be mostly Fridays with a few on Saturdays.
   82. Bug Selig Posted: November 14, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5901196)
That's wild. Here (Michigan) 99%+ of games are Friday. Some places that share fields force a game to Saturday but that's about it. Saturdays are for recovery and watching college games. I had assumed it worked that way everywhere - thanks for the eye-opening.
   83. Zach Posted: November 14, 2019 at 06:51 PM (#5901231)
Also, the slide sign is not binding

If we were treating this as a real dispute, this would be the crux of the issue, wouldn't it?

By longstanding practice, base coaches are offering advice to baserunners, who can take it or disregard it as they choose fit.
   84. Bhaakon Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:10 PM (#5901235)
I'm surprised they didn't sue the outfielder. Clearly his cannon arm was the real villain here.
   85. Zach Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:28 PM (#5901240)
Not the coach, as what he did was logical by most people's viewpoint, but the school for hiring him without ensuring he had coaching experience or training beyond 'he played'. For house leagues and the like that is fine, but for high school baseball where scholarships are earned and potential careers are formed, it isn't good enough.

He's a base coach. "He played" is pretty good training for that.

"Introduction to base coaching" sounds like one of those BS classes that universities get caught offering to their scholarship players to get their grades up.
   86. Zach Posted: November 14, 2019 at 07:43 PM (#5901243)
By longstanding practice, base coaches are offering advice to baserunners, who can take it or disregard it as they choose fit.

I'm irrationally amused by the thought of a lawyer giving this the full Perry Mason treatment:

Lawyer: "And did you see my client doing anything with his hands?"

Witness: "Yes, they were near his belly button." [guestures]

Lawyer: "Could the record please indicate that he is rubbing his hands across his belly."

Lawyer: "And could you please inform the court about the universal meaning of rubbing your belly?"

Witness "Yes, it's the takeoff sign."

Audience: Gasps, followed by excited murmuring.

   87. Howie Menckel Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:02 PM (#5901272)
neither my high school nor my college had a football team (no bands, either)
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 09:49 PM (#5901282)
neither my high school nor my college had a football team (no bands, either)

But did you have highly trained, professional base coaches? If not, you were histories worst monsters.
   89. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 14, 2019 at 11:35 PM (#5901306)

Yeah, when I was in HS about 20 years ago we didn't have a football team or a field. We had a combined team that played at a neighboring school, but we only contributed a handful of players (this was also the same place where I ran track, since my school didn't have a track). Today my HS has its own team and field -- not sure whether there's a track, though.

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