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Manning v. Grimsley

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Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, David Manning, was a fan at a baseball game when he was struck by a ball thrown by Defendant-employee, Ross Grimsley, while playing for Defendant-employer, Baltimore Baseball Club, Inc.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. An employer is liable for damages resulting from an assault by an employee when the assault was in response to a plaintiff’s interference of the employee’s duties.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

What must be shown is that the employee's assault was in response to the plaintiff's conduct which was presently interfering with the employee's ability to perform his duties successfully.

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Facts. Grimsley was warming up in the bullpen at Fenway Park while fans heckled him. After three innings of the fans heckling him, Grimsley threw a ball at a ninety-degree angle from his normal pitching target and into the stands, hitting Plaintiff. Plaintiff contends that the Baltimore ball club is liable for damages because the pitch was thrown by Grimsley in an attempt silence the hecklers so he could warm up effectively.

Issue. The issue is whether the Baltimore Baseball Club could be liable for Grimsley’s pitch into the stands.

Held. The court reversed the trial judge’s directed verdict for the Club because the Club could be held liable for Grimsley’s actions. An employer is liable when an employee assaults a third party in response to the third party’s interference of the employee’s duties. It could be possible that a jury would interpret Grimsley’s actions as an attempt to rid the hecklers so he could pitch more effectively.

Discussion. An employer could be responsible for an employee’s intentional assault, but the key limitation is that the assault must be in response to a third party’s interference in the employee’s duties.

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