Player sued for $500,000 over injuries10:16 am - 07/05/2012
Two years ago, Matthew Migliaccio was doing what any Little League catcher would do before a game: helping a pitcher with his bullpen session.
Matthew, then 11, says he overthrew the pitcher. The ball struck a spectator named Elizabeth Lloyd in the face.
Lloyd, who was watching her son play, was sitting at a picnic table 5 feet from the fenced-in bullpen area, which is down the third base line. She suffered multiple fractures.
“I ran over to see if she was all right,” Matthew, now 13, said during an interview, with his father at his side. “She said she was OK. I was just on with warming the pitcher up, and I was not horsing around.”
Lloyd, 45, of the Whiting section of Manchester, recently filed a lawsuit against the teen, seeking $500,000 in damages.
Riaz A. Mian, Lloyd’s attorney, filed the suit April 24 in state Superior Court, Law Division. No court date has been set. Mian said the damages his client is seeking is the maximum that the family’s homeowners insurance policy covers.
According to the lawsuit, Lloyd contends Matthew intentionally struck her, causing permanent injuries. Mian said the suit was filed after attempts to reach a settlement with insurance companies failed.
“He throws his best fast ball over the bullpen into the picnic area, striking my client in the face,” Mian said. “Life is now different for my client.”
Mian said Lloyd – who was taken to a hospital emergency room after the May 2010 incident – had to undergo reconstructive surgery and suffers from headaches.
Anthony Pagano, attorney for the Migliaccio family, called the lawsuit frivolous.
“The litigation itself is disgusting,” Pagano said. “Because a kid was throwing a baseball in a bullpen session, he is forced to retain counsel.”
Bob Migliaccio, Matthew’s father, said he thought the local Little League or its parent organization would step in after the incident.
“I want to be clear: The litigation does not shock me. People sue people everyday,” Migliaccio said. “What I was surprised about was the lack of answers and support from Little League. I cannot believe that they would not help out in this issue.”
Migliaccio described his son as a baseball junkie. Matthew, a die-hard New York Yankees fan, plays on three different teams, including the middle school team.
“Baseball is his thing,” Bob Migliaccio said. “He is always out there playing – he loves it. I don’t want that to change because of this.”
Each of the fields at the Manchester Little League Complex has signs warning spectators of foul balls, but none mention the risk of overthrown balls.
Steve Barr, media relations director for Little League, said leagues are only required to have insurance for players and coaches – not spectators. The accident insurance has been a requirement of local leagues since 1957.
“There is an inherent risk for spectators at any baseball game,” Barr said. “Our local leagues have accident insurance that covers only league-related personnel (coaches, players, etc.), and only in league-related activities. That insurance does not cover spectators.”
The incident and the lawsuit have made the family decide to step back from the league. Bob Migliaccio said he has taken a break from coaching, while his wife, Sue, has stepped down as manager of the league’s snack stand.
Matthew continues to play, his father said.
“Matthew still plays, but we want to step back because we did not want it to be uncomfortable for anyone,” Bob Migliaccio said.
Migliaccio hopes the incident does not affect his son’s love of the game.
“He never stops playing,” Migliaccio said. “Baseball is what defines him at this time.”
Ashbury Park Press