Dustin Fowler made his MLB debut for the Yankees on June 29 of this year, at the Chicago White Sox. In the bottom of the first inning, Fowler tracked a fly ball into foul territory in shallow right field and crashed hard into the wall, injuring his right knee in the process and ending his season.
Now Fowler is reportedly suing the Chicago White Sox and the state agency that runs their ballpark, claiming that what he hit with his knee was not regular padded outfield wall, but was an unpadded, metal electrical box, hidden in there among the padded sections of wall:
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority acted negligently by not securing the metal box or taking precautions to prevent players from colliding with it. In addition, the suit alleges the White Sox and Sports Facilities Authority failed to adequately inspect the right field wall and the box. The box was installed at knee-level “in a manner so as to create a hidden and undetectable hazard” to Fowler and other ballplayers, the suit alleges. By failing to properly pad, guard or cover the exposed box, the defendants showed “an utter indifference to or conscious disregard” for Fowler’s safety.
Both the Sox and the the agency knew of the unsafe condition and had ample time to improve them before the incident, the suit claims.
Watching the video of the injury it’s hard, if not impossible, to tell where there might be an electrical box in that section of low wall, and I suppose that’s at least part of the problem—the wall, like most outfield walls, is mostly padded, which provides a measure of security for players in exactly Fowler’s predicament. Jumping into a wall you expect to be padded and finding, instead, the metal structure of an electric box cannot be a lot of fun, and in this instance it seems to have basically destroyed a guy’s knee:
Fowler, traded to the Oakland Athletics in July, suffered “severe and permanent” internal and external injuries, as well as mental pain and anguish, according to the suit.
The lawsuit also claims Fowler had to spend “large sums of money” for medical care related to the injury.