A man is suing the Los Angeles Angels nearly a year after being hit in the face and eye by a souvenir ball during a game in Anaheim.
David Mermelstein, 55, attended a June game at Angels Stadium with his friends in an effort to take his mind off recent personal tragedies: His father, a Holocaust survivor, had just died and he was diagnosed with brain cancer, according to the civil complaint.
“Things went horribly wrong,” the complaint reads.
After Juan Lagares — then an Angels outfielder — caught the third out of the top of the 6th inning, the Gold Glove winner “randomly hurled the ball into the stands at high velocity,” striking the unsuspecting Mermelstein on the left side of his face and eye, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff, who was sitting in the outfield bleachers, had looked down for a moment to eat some peanuts and had “no reasonable expectation to be on guard for a baseball careening toward him at high speed,” according to the complaint.
Mermelstein heard the crowd roar and looked up as the ball was coming toward his face. He tried to shield himself to no avail. The ball apparently crushed his eyeball, ruptured the globe and caused internal fluid from his eye to burst, the complaint details.
Mermelstein underwent surgery but was left permanently blind in his left eye and disfigured, he alleges.
He suffers from severe keratoconus – a degenerative vision disorder – in his right eye, and considered his left one his “good eye.”
Mermelstein suffers from what he describes as a stabbing pain in his left eye, which also waters constantly.
Due to his now-limited vision, Mermelstein has trouble performing basic activities and faces the possibility of being completely blind in the future, the lawsuit alleges.
The left eye might have to be removed entirely if his condition does not improve.
“Randomly throwing a baseball into a crowd of people is neither reasonable nor safe,” the lawsuit states.
Mermelstein is seeking an unspecified damages.
MLB tickets come with a disclaimer saying the team is not liable for any injuries sustained during a game:
“Holder recognizes that attendance of Holder and any Accompanying Parties at the Event is voluntary and may result in personal injury (including death), illness and/or property damage and agrees to abide by all MLB Policies and to stay alert and remain aware of Holder’s surroundings,” the disclaimer reads.
Mermelstein’s attorney Rob Marcereau called the disclaimer “fine print” and indicated “nobody reads” it.
“That’s not the law here in California,” the attorney said. “I understand there’s a risk when there’s a batted ball, a foul ball or a homerun, but this accident, this happened when play was stopped.”
Marcereau said the Angels are denying any responsibility for what occurred during the game. A spokesperson for the Angels told KTLA they do not comment on pending legal matters.
The complaint also mentions a 2019 incident at Angels Stadium when then-6-year-old Bryson Galaz was hit in the head by a ball thrown during pre-game warmups and suffered a traumatic injury. His family announced a lawsuit against the team last year.