Fan sues Cubs, MLB after ball blinds him in one eye
A man who was blinded in one eye by a foul ball during a game at Wrigley Field is suing Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs.
“I am trying to protect others from going through what I and my family are going through,” John Loos said at a news conference in Chicago on Monday.
During a Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game on August 29, Loos was hit by a ball traveling at high speed. The incident left him blind in his left eye he said. The vision loss may be permanent and he might need a prosthetic eye, he added.
“I haven’t done much since August 29 … I am on short term disability. I’m not sure when I will be able to return to work,” said Loos, 60, who works in information technology management and lives in the Chicago area.
At Wrigley Field, safety netting does not extend to the far ends of the dugout.
The lawsuit (PDF), filed last week, references a 2014 Bloomberg report stating more than 1,700 fans are injured each year by baseballs entering the stands at a high rate of speed. “The most dangerous areas are the exposed areas along the first and third baselines in foul territory,” the lawsuit said. “In these hot zones, there is no netting and the patrons are exposed.” Loos was sitting in such an area when he was struck by the baseball.
Attorney Colin Dunn, who represents Loos, said they are not seeking a particular sum of money at this point. “The lawsuit is seeking more than $50,000 but that’s a jurisdictional requirement for Cook County,” he said.
In an email to CNN, Cubs’ Vice President of Communications, Julian Green said the organization hasn’t seen the lawsuit. “If and when we do, we don’t typically comment on pending lawsuits.”
Major League Baseball did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Loos has had multiple surgeries since the accident. He also suffered five broken bones on his face and has a hole in his sinus which bleeds into his mouth, he told reporters.
He said he will need to undergo two more surgeries and has contemplated removing his injured eye.
Dunn said it’s not just fans who are worried.
“There are players in Major League Baseball who will not let their families sit in unprotected areas,” he said. “In 2007, 2012, as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, one of the asks by the player was to extend the netting. They know how dangerous it is,” he added.
Tickets purchased for a Major League Baseball game state the risk of being hit by a foul ball, limiting the team’s liability — but Loos says he was at the game as a guest and didn’t purchase a ticket.
“I was told my seat was a good one … I have been only to a few games and to sit so close to the field with my family was really exciting for me,” said Loos.
In the fifth inning, a foul ball came off the bat and hit him the face. He felt a rush of pain and lost sight in that eye immediately, he said.
His son, who was sitting next to him, saw the ball coming but had no time to warn him.
“I had no chance to avoid it. It was just too fast,” Loos recalled.
Prior to the accident, Loos had 20/20 vision, he said.
In September a child was injured by a foul ball at Yankee stadium in New York. In response MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called the incident “extremely upsetting.” In a statement he said, “over the past few seasons MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks…we will redouble our efforts on this important issue.”
Since then teams including the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres have all announced plans to install additional netting at their stadiums.
“My life and the lives of many fans have been changed forever by Major League Baseball’s failure to protect its fans. It’s too late for me, but Major League Baseball must fix this not after the playoffs, not next year but now,” said Loos.
Loos’ lawyers said he had reached out to the Cubs before the case was filed last week.
“They told us that they are willing to talk to us,” Dunn said. “I take that in good faith. I do think they care about their fans.”