By Jarett L. Warner of
Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP*
An aspiring baseball player who was trying out for the New York Mets had his lawsuit dismissed by a New York court based on the execution of a General Release and Waiver.
The plaintiff Jarrod Davis commenced a personal injury lawsuit in New York State Court against the Brooklyn Baseball Company, L.L.C. (“BBC”) and Sterling Mets, L.P., arising from injuries allegedly sustained on August 3, 2001 at Keyspan Park while attending an open call tryout for the Mets baseball team. The plaintiff alleged that while attending an “open try-out” and “while participating in a throw and catch session alongside more than two hundred (200) ‘try-out’ invitees . . . [he] was forcefully struck about the head with a hardball.” As a result, the plaintiff allegedly sustained a linear parietal skull fracture, blunt head trauma, as well as headaches and a reduction in the range of motion of his head and neck.
However, before participating at the tryout, the plaintiff had signed a General Release and Waiver, containing the following language:
. . . in consideration of receiving permission to participate in the workout or tryout, I hereby agree, on behalf of myself and my heirs, legatees, distributes . . . to waive any and all rights regarding, and to release and hold harmless and indemnify the New York Mets, Sterling Doubleday Enterprises, L.P., their respective directors, offices, officials, employees and agents . . . from and against, any and all claims, actions, proceedings, liabilities, damages and expenses related directly and indirectly to personal injury . . . caused or incurred by me related in any way to my participation as herein described.
Based on the language contained in the General Release, which the Court held to be explicit and comprehensive, the Court dismissed all claims against the defendants, holding that the General Release was unambiguous and thus the plaintiff waived any rights of recovery for personal injury in connection with the open tryout at Keyspan Park. The Court noted that “[a] release is enforceable in the absence of fraud, duress, illegality or mutual mistake,” factors that were not argued by the plaintiff.
The Court was unpersuaded by the plaintiff’s assertion that although Mr. Davis signed the General Release, there was an issue of fact concerning whether the plaintiff comprehended the nature of the risk when he entered into the agreement. The Court stated that since a release cannot be treated lightly and that having subscribed the document, the plaintiff could not have misunderstood its terms. The Court also did not find the plaintiff’s argument that the General Release was not a bar to his causes of action based on the defendants’ grossly negligent acts persuasive, concluding that the plaintiff did not make any claims for gross negligence in his Verified Complaint.
Jarrod Davis v. Brooklyn Baseball Company, L.L.C., Sterling Equities, Inc. and Sterling Mets, L.P. d/b/a New York Mets; Case No. 109171/04
Attorneys of Record: (for plaintiff) Robert V. Kaminksi, Omrani & Taub, P.C., New York, New York; (for defendants) Jarett L. Warner and Carla Varriale, Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, New York, New York (formerly of Ohrenstein & Brown, LLP).
* Warner is an associate at Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP, a New York City-based law firm. He can be reached via email at email@example.com