Couple Sues Baseball Bat Maker Over Son’s Injuries

CHICAGO (CBS) – They are supposed to hit balls farther and faster, but one suburban couple says that’s exactly the problem with aluminum bats.

Jake Schutter, 11, was seriously injured playing in a Little League game. A hard hit ball off a metal bat hit Jake in the head.

And, as CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, now his family is fighting to make sure no other child is hurt the same way.

“I just remember hitting the ground, seeing everyone around me, and everything was just spinning,” said Jake.

He was pitching a Little League game back in May when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of a much larger player, using a metal bat.

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“I didn’t know a ball could come off a bat that fast,” said Robert Schutter, Jake’s father. “I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed.”

Jake’s parents have filed suit in federal court blaming the maker of the bat: Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. They are seeking damages for Jake’s injuries, which include permanent hearing loss in his right ear.

“It took a lot of soul searching to decide that this is what we wanted to do,” said Cheryl Schutter, Jake’s mother. “And we wanted to do it so that it doesn’t happen to another kid.”

The Schutters say it’s time to either limit the use of certain metal bats to kids of a certain age, or to ban them all together.

“We can start naming off name after name of children who have been injured or killed by balls coming off of metal bats,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who’s representing the Schutters. “The design of these bats and the performance of these [metal] bats over wooden bats are what are the cause of these injuries.”

Yet, at a local Sports Authority, it’s clear what’s selling. The selection of metal bats is huge, compared to the few wooden bats.

CBS 2 asked manager Jon Coslow if he gets many questions about the safety of the bats.

“No, just, ‘I’m playing in a league and I have to have this certification bat.’ That’s the big focus,” said Coslow.

While Jake is cleared to go back on the baseball diamond, metal bat and all, he did have to give up football, according to doctor’s orders.

“I’m just lucky I’m still here,” Jake said.

South Dakota and New York City have already banned the use of metal bats. But measures that would have banned them in Illinois and in the city of Chicago both failed.

In response to the lawsuit, Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. issued the following statement:

“Easton Bell Sports is saddened to hear of Jake Schutter’s on-field injuries. Easton takes sports safety very seriously, and that commitment is built into every product that carries the Easton name. We are dedicated to safety research and development, with a track record of innovating some of the safest sporting equipment on the market.”

More from John Cody
  • lifelongchicagoan

    I’m sorry but this is ridiculous! Would this childs parents be suing the wooden bat maker if the ACCIDENT occured with a wooden bat??? Sports dangers are well known in all sports and injuries occur at ALL levels. The best thing for parents to do if they are concerned is not allow their kids to play sports period

    • gagarocks

      @lifelongchicagoan-I am thinking the EXACT same thing. How does one blame the bat maker because their child was hit??? BOOOOOOOOO!!!!

  • Joliet

    Easton is not at fault. Come on Schutter family. You say you’re doing it to protect others but are seeking monetary damages for yourself. What’s your real interest? Why aren’t you suing the baseball league? Sue the one with the deepest pockets? Time to step up and blame yourself, not everyone else. Maybe your son should be playing in the outfield instead of pitching.

  • MK

    Ha, now he probly sounds like Lou Ferrigno when he talks!!

  • sam

    Bad luck happens. These stupid lawsuits have to be stoped because we are all payoing for it one way or another. The stupid lawyer who took the case should be disbared.

  • Ron Santo

    This lawsuit is ridiculous. Even if the bat specifications were illegal for the league, it is not the bat makers fault. Sucks he got hurt, but maybe he could have thrown a better pitch with two strikes on the hitter. These parents are just another case of parents only concerned for their own wallet and ruining sports for everyone else. Pathetic.

  • Streamwoodbill

    these parents are crazy. they should file suit against themwelves for being the biggest idiots around BIG FOOLS !

  • Seah Han Wen

    Come on! If that is the case, wouldn’t people also be suing the ball maker for making the ball ‘too hard’? This lawsuit is ridiculous… This is just a bunch of A@#holes looking to make quick cash off a accident rather than concerning themselves with their own kids.

  • brockoli

    On the bright side, at least football is safe from them. “Parents Sue Maker of Football Because Large People Tackled Their Snowflake When He Was Running With It” is what we would have seen next week. “The design of the ball is inherently unsafe” said someone who should be classified as obviously too stupid to breed.

  • Jay Blanc

    The problem appears to be that the Little League was requiring ‘League Certified’ bats of this type from this maker. And it really isn’t a good idea to have Aluminium bats in a Little League game. Even MLB players get whacked with the ball from time to time.

  • m

    Too bad stupid people can’t be sued for being stupid.

  • obbop

    Somebody will pay eventually. Even if it is the taxpayer via Social Security disability.

  • Bevets Fan

    Throw this garbage out of court and make the lawsuit bringers pay every dime of legal costs! Ridiculous!!

    • hutch1200

      BINGO! Bevets! Not to go off on a tangent, but we really do need Tort Reform Now. I don’t know which part of this kid I feel worse for. He allegedly lost hearing in one ear, but I fear the worst part is being raised by Jackals.

  • Jack Frost

    This is stupid. Your kid is slow and uncoordinated. That’s not the bat’s fault. It’s not the ball’s fault. Maybe you should sue gravity and physics while you’re at it.

  • Me

    Yep, ridiculous. You can’t keep your poor kid in a bubble his whole life. Deal with it. Things happen and kids get hurt, life goes on. He could be sitting in a padded room, playing with cotton balls and the roof falls in. If you’re really that paranoid, keep him home, but all in all, life is a risk.

  • SabreWulf

    … Why not sue the makers of the baseball? If it had been “softer” it “might” not have hurt so much, or “possibly” not have been able to cause so much damage … OR Sue to kid for HITTING the ball so hard in the first place, after all, the kid “was stronger than the other, and should have KNOWN this “might” have happened… Can we sue this family for disturbing our mental state by being so stupid? I mean, they ARE, after all, inflicting their stupidity on us… Or sue the baseball league for not limiting the max speed of the ball to make it slower and safer… After all, a stronger kid/better hitter with a wooden bat can do the same thing!

  • Trogdor

    If the bat maker should have forseen the injury, then so should have the parents who let their kid play.

  • big-x

    actually there have been adults killed by the new high-tech bats. first they limited bats to a bpf of 1.2, but still ball were coming off the bats faster and faster. now the limit is mph the ball comes off the bat.

    you can go out and buy bats that exceed both limits, especially if you go buy a titanium bat. i personally know a person who lost any eye to a ball batted off the high-tech bats. the guy is lucky that is all he lost

  • Jules

    Wow you mean a ball hit with a bat can move fast? Amazing that the parents never noticed that before.

    Honestly they would have a better case against the league that allowed the use of the bat, but of course the league wouldn’t have any money. Pathetic.

  • They Walk Among Us « 98.7 KLUV

    […] 1. Couple Sues Baseball Bat Maker […]

  • DMowry

    The knee jerk reactions to this are really telling of the ignorance toward finely tuned aluminum bats. Bat makers have spent millions of dollars on R&D to “tune” their bats so that the balls fly farther and faster. Why do you think they’re not allowed in MLB? These bats have been proven to be dangerous, especially to pitchers. Unfortunately, until more lawsuits come out holding the bat makers responsible for their scientifically tuned bats — bats that can maim and kill — these injuries are more likely to occur.

  • The Best

    Awooden Bat can do the same harm. WE have enough trial ATTORNEYS taking advantage. Walk it off PARENTS and SUCK IT UP! This is totally ridiculus and a frivilous LAW SUITE!

    Give me a break!

    • DMowry

      A BALL can do the same harm, but the question that is not addressed here is how FAST the ball comes off the bat. Science proves that a wooden bat cannot hit a ball as fast as a tuned aluminum bat.

  • Drew

    Apparently the parents would prefer for a wooden bat to splinter and break and hit the kid instead of the ball.

    If you don’t like the reality of the sport don’t participate. I am actually suprised they didn’t sue the family of the kid that hit the ball. Or what about the the Hat company because it didn’t provide for enough protection…

  • Chuck

    Apparently they must know all 97 kids nationwide who suffered injuries as pitchers which I find extremely hard to believe…also remembering that there were over 2 million kids playing Little League as well….statistically figure out the injury incident ration per player ration and its almost negligible in the greater scheme of things. Maybe the coaching staff shouldnt have had him playing the position he was playing? 9 + years of LL coaching and managind in both regular season LL and Fall ball LL and not one pitcher has ever suffered an injury in our League doe to a batted ball using aluminim bats. And with about 450-500 kids a year participating in regular season and a similar number in Fall Ball maybe its just that we have beter coaches and managers who know the limitations of a specific player….?

    • DMowry

      Chuck — you’ve been lucky. with absolutely NO knowledge of the facts, you assume this kid might ought not to have been pitching? Negligible stats wouldn’t cut it if it was your kid.

      The META point here is that in a game with known risks, taking some of the risk out of the equation make it as safe as can be — rather than pushing the limits of tuning and seeing what can be gotten away with. Batters wear helmets (smart kids wear face masks) and a pitcher who is equidistant from the protected batter, catcher and umpire, is left completely unprotected. That’s a risk. so be it. However, if a bat is tuned so a ball comes off a fraction faster and an unprotected pitcher can’t react, sounds like you’re satisfied taking that risk. Good luck!

  • chuck

    Again these people are apparently in it for the money as they again state that they can name person after person who have been “killed” by batted balls. Read the Executive Summary published by LL International indicaitng that since records wstarted being kep in 1960 there have only been 8 deaths attributed to batted balls….and 6 of those were by wooden bats and only 2 by Aluminim bats…so again they lied….or maybe “SPIN” is a kinder more gentle word. People that make these kind of hystrionic claims without providing supporting data are only trying to line their own nest and not proviiding for a safer play environs….clearly wooden bats have caused more deaths…….

  • DMowry

    Given that wooden bats were de rigeur in 1960, it’s no doubt that statistically, they hold more injury. However, you’re forgetting to add CYO ball, HS Ball, and even college ball where aluminum is the norm. As well as any other non-sanctioned LL level ball, which I grew up playing in MO. (Khoury League). Add ALL the stats and see if you’re still right about negligibility.

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