Sunday, November 24, 2013

Manning v. Grimsley case brief

Manning v. Grimsley case brief summary
643 F.2d 20 (1981)

Plaintiff spectator challenged an order of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which entered a directed verdict for defendants, pitcher and baseball club, in plaintiff's battery action.

Plaintiff spectator brought an action sounding in battery and negligence against defendants, pitcher and baseball club. The district court entered a directed verdict on the battery count, and the jury returned a general verdict for defendants on the negligence count. Plaintiff appealed only the directed verdict on battery. The appellate court vacated and remanded for a new trial, holding that the jury could have found a battery on facts that the pitcher was expert, looked at the spectators several times immediately following heckling, and that the ball traveled at a right angle from the direction in which he had been pitching.


  • Under general tort law, absolute liability was imposed whether the harm was intended at plaintiff or a third person. 
  • Further, plaintiff was not collaterally estopped from asserting battery simply because he did not appeal the adverse negligence judgment. 
  • Rather, the general verdict did not conclusively determine that the pitch into the stands was not intentional. 
  • Further, the judgment was reversed as to the baseball club also, as the jury could have found that the heckling interfered with the pitcher's ability to perform his job.

The appellate court vacated the district court's directed verdict in favor of defendants, pitcher and baseball club, in plaintiff spectator's battery action and remanded for a new trial because the jury could have found from the facts that the pitch into the stands was intentional, an adverse negligence judgment did not conclusively determine the issue of intent, and the heckling could be found to have interfered with the pitcher's job.

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