Most hardcore baseball fans dream of catching a ball in the stands.
That dream turned into a nightmare, however, for one California man who is now suing the Los Angeles Angels after he was allegedly hit in the face and blinded by a baseball thrown by one of the team’s players.
In a lawsuit filed in California on Tuesday, David Mermelstein, 55, is suing the Angels over a claim that outfielder Juan Lagares threw a souvenir baseball that him in the face, causing permanent blindness in his left eye.
While visiting Angel Stadium on June 22, 2022, Mermelstein alleges Lagares “randomly hurled the ball into the stands at high velocity” during the sixth inning.
Mermelstein and his friends decided to attend the baseball game in an attempt to cheer up Mermelstein, after his father, a Holocaust survivor, had died. Mermelstein himself had also just been diagnosed with brain cancer.
After noting Lagares has a “cannon for an arm,” Mermelstein’s lawyers wrote their client had glanced downward to eat some peanuts just before the incident. As the game was not currently in play, Mermelstein said he did not expect a baseball to enter the stands. When Lagares tossed the souvenir ball to fans — as is common practice at many baseball games — Mermelstein looked up just in time to be hit in the eye.
According to local news station KTLA, the baseball hit Mermelstein’s left eye with enough force to crush his eyeball and cause internal fluid to burst from his eye.
Despite undergoing surgery, Mermelstein was left disfigured and blind in his left eye, according to the lawsuit. He also claimed he experiences stabbing pain and constant watering from that eye. Mermelstein’s lawyers wrote that his left eye may have to be removed.
Mermelstein already suffers from a degenerative disorder called severe keratoconus in his right eye. The lawsuit alleged Mermelstein may now face complete blindness. He claimed to now have difficulty performing basic tasks as a result.
He is seeking unspecified damages. The Angels said they are unable to comment on ongoing litigation.
Fans attending Major League Baseball (MLB) games are warned on their tickets that the team is not liable for any injuries caused during games. Attendees are told to “stay alert and remain aware” of their surroundings at all times.
Still, Mermelstein’s lawyers believe they have a fair chance of winning the lawsuit.
Mermelstein’s lawyer Rob Marcereau told KTLA that “nobody reads” the “fine print” disclaimer from MLB.
“I understand there’s a risk when there’s a batted ball, a foul ball or a home run, but this accident, this happened when play was stopped,” he said.
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