A Florida woman has decided to sue the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg for failing to extend the protective netting at Tropicana Field after a foul ball hit her face nearly four years ago.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Priscilla McCarthy claims it left her with “severe and permanent injuries.”
“The netting to serve as a barrier for patrons did not extend out to this section where [McCarthy] was sitting,” the suit reads.
The incident happened on June 29, 2016, during a Rays’ home game against the Boston Red Sox. McCarthy — who was 70 years old at the time — was sitting in section 126, Row JJ when a foul ball hit the left side of her face. The section is about 40 rows behind the Rays’ dugout along the first baseline.
McCarthy, 74, claims the damages have cost her more than $30,000.
“[McCarthy] has suffered in the past and will suffer in the future the inability to lead a normal life, and further, [McCarthy] has also suffered in the past the loss of earnings and will suffer the loss of future earning capacity because of the permanent nature of the said injuries,” the suit reads. “[McCarthy] has been required in the past and will be required in the future to spend large sums of money for remedial medical care to treat said serious and permanent injuries.”
Lawyer Tony Griffith of Clearwater-based Tanney, Griffith and Bresler, P.A. filed the 12-page suit on Feb. 6 in Pinellas County Circuit Court on McCarthy’s behalf.
McCarthy is seeking a jury trial against the Rays and the city of St. Petersburg.
The city of St. Petersburg owns Tropicana Field, and the Rays committed to their lease there through the 2027 season.
Representatives with the Rays did not immediately respond for a request to comment. The city of St. Pete declined to comment because they do not discuss pending litigation.
Despite filing a claim with the city of St. Petersburg in June 2019, it appears McCarthy and the city did not reach a settlement.
“Due to the combination of the white ceiling and the lack of netting, Ms. McCarthy did not see the foul ball and it struck her violently on the left side of her face,” the initial claim said.
The Rays opted to join the MLB’s other 29 teams in extending netting to at least the outfield ends of the dugouts before the start of the 2018 season.
Several fans have been hit by foul balls at MLB stadiums across the country. That includes a young fan hospitalized by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium in 2017, a woman who died after a foul ball struck her at Dodger Stadium in August 2018 and a 4-year-old girl at Minute Maid Park in May 2019.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league will extend netting again before the start of the 2020 season.
A September 2014 review by Bloomberg found 1,750 fans per year are injured by batted balls.