<em>Legally</em> <strong>Speaking</strong>


Are you prepared for Opening Day—legally speaking?
Jim Juliano - Spring 2009

With Opening Day fast approaching, here’s a checklist to help team and facilities owners minimize their liability this season. Take a few moments to make sure your legal bases are covered with my

Top 12 things to do before Opening Day

  1. Shape up your employment practices. Review employee procedures and policies; amend the employee manual, if needed. Make sure there is a signed salary letter for every salaried employee. Obtain signed receipts for your employee manual to document that you have taken steps to ensure that employees are aware of requirements. Run background checks (if you have the proper permission) for employees who handle money or work with children. Establish procedures for the handling of cash and inventory procedures to prevent employee theft.

  2. Review insurance papers for adequate coverage and effective date. Do you have enough coverage for general liability, business income, employment practices liability, director and officer liability and property and casualty?

  3. Add language to nonbaseball event contracts requiring ample insurance and the addition of the team and ballpark owner as named insureds. Enforce this requirement without exception.

  4. Protect yourself by requiring your medical services provider to defend and indemnify the team from any negligence involving the provider’s medical services. Have the provider produce a certificate of liability insurance that names the team as an additional insured.

  5. Get signed releases from groups that will be on the field. The release language should release the team from liability for injury due to accidental or negligent actions or omissions by the team or other participants. Check your state law because some courts restrict the scope of releases. Update the language in the release forms, if needed. Make sure parents or guardians sign releases for minors.

  6. Check screening behind home plate and anywhere else it is used to make sure it is in excellent condition. Document your inspection and any repairs that you make. Under the baseball rule—which is the law in most jurisdictions—owners must protect the most dangerous seats in their parks with screening and must provide enough screened seats to reasonably fulfill requests from spectators on an ordinary occasion. The screening must be properly maintained and adequate per the industry standard.
  7. Check language on the backs of tickets for warning about possible injury from balls and bats leaving the field. Post signs around the ballpark that warn about balls and bats.

  8. Document all maintenance, especially of items that may affect fan safety.

  9. Train all employees about injury procedure. Practice the procedure.

  10. Work with your home city to adopt an emergency evacuation plan. Practice it. Establish security procedures for fan safety.

  11. Add language to suite contracts that allow for termination if there is unruly behavior.

  12. Regarding alcohol sales, if you don’t already have one, prepare a clear, written policy for all employees that requires a cutoff of sales at a certain time, such as seventh inning. Prohibit sales to minors and require identification in case a would-be buyer's age is questionable. The policy should require employees to report individuals who appear to be intoxicated. Providing training for employees on the signs of intoxication and on how to handle intoxicated patrons can be helpful both at the ballpark and in the courtroom.

Taking steps now can minimize risk and worry throughout the coming season.




This website contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2009 by L. James Juliano Jr.
Legally Speaking® is a registered trademark of the law practice of L. James Juliano Jr.