According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Brian Cariota, a paramedic supervisor, will seek more than 1 million dollars in damages from the Houston Astros. The incident in question occurred during Game 2 of the America League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park in October of 2019.
The lack of protective netting was no mere mistake or oversight, the lawsuit claims. It goes on to say that the dugout view needed to be clear so the Astros could engage in “sign-stealing” – the practice of stealing signs from the opposing catcher. A Major League Baseball investigation that occurred shortly after Cariota’s injury concluded that the Astros stole signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Sign stealing looks like this: the Astros focused a camera on the opposing catcher. The camera then relayed his signs to a T.V. monitor inside the dugout. Allegedly, Astros players would alert teammates of an upcoming pitch by hitting a trash can. “If you are stealing signs,” the suit says, “you need a clear unobstructed view.”
The dugout accident resulted in significant injury for Cariota. According to the suit, he suffered a traumatic brain injury that has severely impacted his quality of life. Specifically, he endured a fracture of the left superior orbital wall and a subarachnoid hemorrhage along the left frontal lobe.
A spokesperson for the Astros has so far declined to comment on the matter. While the Houston Astros are the defendant, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were mentioned in the lawsuit’s factual background. It is asserted that Luhnow and Hinch personally saw to it that protective netting was not allowed.
On the day of the incident, Michael Brantley’s line-drive left his bat at 108 mph. While serving as the Astro’s dugout paramedic, Cariota was struck by the ball just above his left eyebrow. The game was halted for a short time, as team managers and athletic trainer Jeremiah Randall comforted and tended to the victim.
Today, Cariota suffers from post-concussion syndrome, blurry vision, a damaged retina, and “floaters and starbursts” at night. Although Cariota’s wife initially said she and her husband saw the incident a “freak accident”, it seems that time and perspective have refined the plaintiff’s summary of the event.
According to the suit: “This was a conscious decision made by the defendant (Houston Astros) who had subjective awareness of the extreme risk associated with its conduct and decision. The decision was made in deliberate disregard for the rights, safety, and welfare of others including the plaintiff (Cariota).”
History is also a factor. When a foul ball struck a 2-year-old girl in May of 2019, the Astros installed protective netting beyond the dugouts. However, no protection was applied to the workers inside the dugout. The lawsuit argues that this implies, “…the Astros were keenly aware of the hazard created by foul balls. Unfortunately, the Astros made a decision that they would not provide a safety net to protect workers in the dugout.”