Can A Baseball Player Be A ‘Known Defect?’

Miami Marlins outfielder Delmon Young was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a parking attendant in the Magic City.

Authorities state that the 30-year-old free agent grabbed the man’s neck and called him a “stupid Cuban” after he refused to let Mr. Young into an elevator to Viceroy Miami, because the club was closed. After the attendant escaped and called police, security staff directed officers to Mr. Young’s condominium, because he had a history of incidents at the hotel. A belligerent Mr. Young denied the accusations, but he was nevertheless arrested and charged with simple battery.

Mr. Young was a number one overall pick in 2003. In 2006, he was suspended for 50 games at Triple-A Durham for flipping his bat at a replacement umpire. In 2012, Major League Baseball suspended Mr. Young for seven days after he yelled racial epithets during a late-night fight in New York City.

Landowner Liability

Just like a motorist has a duty of reasonable care towards other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, landowners also owe a duty of care to people who come onto their land for any reason. The nature of the duty largely depends on the reason for the visit. There are three categories:

  • Trespasser: If the person is on the land without the owner’s permission and does not provide any benefit to the landowner, the owner must refrain from intentional harm. The duty is somewhat higher to include a limited duty to warn, if the victim was a child trespasser or frequent trespasser.
  • Licensees: People who are on the land but provide no benefit to the landowner must be warned about latent defects, like rotten wood in steps or a hidden sinkhole in the yard. The duty is somewhat higher with regard to the owner’s social guests, because they provide a noneconomic benefit.
  • Invitees: Owners owe business customers, hotel guests, apartment tenants, and other people who are on the land for a commercial purpose a duty to warn about all potential dangers and an affirmative duty to keep the property reasonably safe. These duties apply whether or not money changes hands.

Some jurisdictions have abandoned the classification system in favor of a general duty of care. Regardless, persons who are injured due to a landowner’s negligence are entitled to compensation for their economic and noneconomic damages. Punitive damages are also available, in some cases.

Proving Liability

In the classification system, which is still in use in most jurisdictions, the plaintiff must generally prove that the owner had knowledge of the defect. Sometimes, there is direct evidence, such as a store inspection report that says there was a wet spot on the floor or video surveillance footage that clearly shows a missing guardrail.

More often, however, the evidence is circumstantial. For example, an inadequate security case can be established through prior security breaches at that location. Or, as in the above story, a person with a history of violence at a particular place should probably not be allowed to return.

Landowners must keep their property safe for all visitors. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fayetteville, contact the Wade Law Office. We routinely represent clients throughout the Greater Atlanta area.


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