The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled intramural softball is a contact sport. The ruling comes in a Carroll County case where Larry and Judith Feld sued for damages alleging negligence after their son Benjamin was hit by a softball bat.
Benjamin was playing first base in 2005 during practice for an intramural softball team made up of his high school friends. Batter Luke Borkowski hit a ball to third base, and the bat flew out of his hands, down the first base line and struck Feld in the head.
Feld was knock unconscious and subsequently lost sight in his left eye. Feld and other players testified that Borkowski was not horsing around at the time of the incident. Borkowski requested the case be dismissed saying softball is a contact sport and there is some assumption of the risk of being injured.
The district court agreed and dismissed the case, however, the Felds appealed claiming the contact sports exception is limited to situations where the specific type of physical contact is inherent in the sport. They argue Benjamin did not subject himself to this particular risk because, he was standing in a spot in which he could not have anticipated being hit by a bat swung by a right-handed hitter.
The Appeals Court agreed with the district court ruling, saying an occasional flying bat is part of the "rough and tumble" of the game of softball and Fled subjected himself to this risk when he stepped onto the field as a participant. Under the contact sports exception a participant in a contact sport may only bring suit for injuries received during the game for acts of another participant done to intentionally inflict injury or done in reckless disregard for the safety of the other participants.