Foul Ball Case Could Set Nevada Court Precedent

Bill Mueller never realized when he fouled a ball into left field in a Las Vegas 51s game at Cashman Field that it could end up as a precedent-setting Nevada Supreme Court case.

During a May 2002 game, Mueller hit a ball into left field that curved foul into the Beer Garden, where Kathleen Turner, 54, was eating a sandwich.

The ball hit her between the eyes, breaking her nose and cutting her face. The injuries required reconstructive facial surgery.

Turner and her husband, Michael, who were season-ticket holders, are suing Mandalay Sports Entertainment LLC, the operator of Cashman Field, for damages.

Attorneys for Mandalay Sports want the Supreme Court to adopt rulings similar to those made in courts in other states limiting the liability of baseball stadium operators in foul ball cases.

Lawyers say the Nevada Supreme Court, which will hear the case Wednesday in Las Vegas, has never ruled on the protection of fans at baseball games.

Attorney Felicia Galati, representing the stadium operators, said in a pre-hearing brief that "baseball parks do not owe a duty to provide screening ... in viewing areas except in the most dangerous areas of the park, which is behind home plate."

She urged the Supreme Court to uphold District Judge Jessie E. Walsh, who issued a pretrial ruling in favor of Mandalay Sports.

Attorney Daniel Polsenberg, representing the Turners, has asked the Supreme Court not to adopt other courts' rulings that limit stadium operators' liability for foul ball injuries suffered by fans.

Polsenberg said the rulings in other states apply only to the stands, not to other areas such as the Beer Garden, which he described as the only unprotected concession area at Cashman field.