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Judge overturns verdict won by Norman baseball player hit in face by batted ball

Federal jury awarded Dillon Yeaman and his parents nearly $1 million in claim against bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby, citing “defective” bat design; A judge overturned that award; attorney intends to appeal
by Tim Willert Published: September 15, 2012

A federal judge has overturned a verdict won by the parents of a Norman baseball player struck in the face by a line drive in 2006.

Michael and Cathy Yeaman sued bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby after their son, Dillon Yeaman, was seriously injured, claiming in court documents that the design of the aluminum bat used in the incident was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” and posed a “known risk of grave harm” to users.

In December, a jury found the 100-year-old bat company, whose signature model is the Louisville Slugger, liable for design of the Exogrid Model CB7IX, and for failing to warn of the bat's dangers, and awarded $871,000 in damages to Dillon Yeaman and $80,095.85 to his parents.

However, U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot, in a Sept. 5 opinion, said the plaintiff's evidence “failed altogether to provide any rational basis for a jury finding that it was the performance of the Exogrid bat that, broadly speaking, caused Dillon's injuries, or, narrowly speaking, deprived Dillon of the extra milliseconds he needed to defend himself.”

The judge also found that “the lack of a warning did not cause or contribute to Dillon's decision to pitch to (the batter) without protection.”

Oklahoma City attorney Joe E. White said Friday he plans to appeal the latest ruling on behalf of the family.

“Everyone's disappointed, given what the family has been through,” White said. “Dillon sustained a very serious injury that will be with him for the rest of his life.”

Dillon Yeaman was pitching for Norman High School in a summer league game against Westmoore High School on June 28, 2006, when he was struck in the face by a batted ball.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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