(Australian) Outrage of the Day: Girl Sues Classmate Whose Tennis Ball Hit Her

Hi Readers! Greetings from Bendigo, Australia where I’m here to keynote this conference. (Gorgeous city!) Anyway, apparently I arrived just in the nick of time. Two girls over here were playing tennis at a private school recently when the ball hit and bruised one girl’s eye. Anything having to do with eyes is scary and distressing, but in a move worthy of the best of America’s ambulance chasers, the bruised-eye-girl’s family immediately sued the ball-lobber, and the tennis school, and the college where the incident occurred. According to this report in The Courier Mail:

The claim says the tennis school failed to provide adequate supervision or protective eyewear…

So from now on, should we no longer assume that everyone understands the basic idea that a ball, once set in motion, can hit a person? At the same time, should we start insisting on protective eyewear every time a moving ball is invovled? Goggles?, I guess?

As the daughter of a man who started and ran a tennis club till he died (Max Skenazy, Northbrook Racquet Club in Illinois!) , I’m hoping this suit will be tossed out of both courts — both tennis and legal. – L

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48 Responses to (Australian) Outrage of the Day: Girl Sues Classmate Whose Tennis Ball Hit Her

  1. matchingpegs April 29, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Enjoy Bendigo! As of a result of the Gold Rush, there was a period where Bendigo was the richest city in the world – that’s why it has so much lovely architecture. My Great Grandfather was the mayor for two terms, and my husband is from up that way, which is why it is close to my heart. We spend a lot of time there (We live in Melbourne).

  2. Shastadaisy April 29, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    The love of tennis in my family was borne out of my mother’s love for the game. Thus, since childhood, watching mom play, watching the greats play from tournament to tournament (including the Austrailian Open), I never saw anyone using goggles. Altogether now….”Well duhhhh!”

  3. Peter April 29, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    The Goggles Do Nothing!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

  4. Heather G April 29, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Imagine the lawsuit if the girl *was* wearing goggles that broke upon impact. Safety devices don’t always protect. Several years ago I was working on my vehicle. Being August in Florida (and my natural aversion to shoes) I was barefoot. The stand my car was on buckled and it came crashing down on my foot. Completely tore up all the muscles and tendons on the medial side and only by a miracle did I not break any bones. At the ER the physician who treated me, who also worked on his own vehicles, noted that had I been wearing “safety” footwear I would have severed my toe at best and might have lost my entire foot at worst. While safety devices have their place, no doubt about that at all, the idea that every activity will be protected from random accidents because of safety equipment is used is not based in reality.

  5. ebohlman April 29, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Can we be sure that this isn’t a subrogation lawsuit filed by an insurance carrier on behalf of the parents?

  6. Nanci April 29, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Back in 1997 I worked at a daycare. One day a boy tossed a toy flower up in the air and it the stem scratched another boys eye as it came down. It was a total accident. The injured boy was severly hurt, his eye was sliced wide open. I’d never seen anything like it and hope I never do again. He was immediatly taken for medical treatment and never returned to the daycare. I had heard he was going to be okay and never thought much of the incident again. Around 2006 I get a call from a lawyer who needs me to come downtown and give a deposition about what happened that day. Apparently all these years later the parents had decided to sue the owner of the daycare, which was not even in business anymore. I went and gave my sworn statement. I never did hear how it turned out. I was shocked that they would be sueing 9 years after the fact!!!

  7. MaeMae April 29, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    My son had his first baseball game today. My daughter went over to watch the girls play. She came back laughing because all the girls on the field had helmets on and the pitcher was wearing a full face mask. She said, “This is why I play boys lacrosse.”

  8. BL April 29, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Isn’t there a point at which these subrogation lawsuits cost more in attorney fees than can ever be recovered? Like, most of the time?

  9. Janina April 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Unfortunately, where I live in Canada, a lot of schools are outlawing balls in playgrounds unless they are of a certain size and certain softness. Apparently someone got hit in the head with a basketball, or some other such nonsense. So since playgrounds at lunch and recess aren’t structured physical activity like Phys Ed class, they are taking away a lot of equipment. I remember playing tetherball at recess and getting that ball in the face a few times, ouch! But I loved it.

  10. jason nolan April 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    We should ban tennis. It’s a silly game.

  11. Rachel B April 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    My tennis playing 8 year old daughter when she heard this on the news said, “surely it was her own fault because she didn’t get out of the way quick enough”. I couldn’t really argue with that.

  12. owen59 April 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    In Australia we would tend to say in the best british accent we could muster, “Oh, we are getting “Hoity Toity”. I hope some judge makes equivalent remarks.
    On sport in general, it can be dangerous, sometimes fatal, though tennis is not high on the injury radar. In field hocky it is absolutley forbidden to throw your stick. I once saw an accidental throw that started out as a boy slamming his stick to the ground. Unfortunately the spring in the stick saw it bounce 60 metres (yards) down field and hit another boy in the face, fracturing his jaw. That did require some legal manouvring, especially due to the medical costs involved, and, even then, the ‘victim’ may have long term issues.
    Bottom line, teach your children to play sport well and with a calm demeanour, which is, afterall, the main point of it. Otherwise, it is a waste of time.

  13. hineata April 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Got to feel sorry for the girls involved…..hope their friendship survives this nonsense. Maybe the architect father is having some kind of midlife crisis? Beats running off with the secretary, I guess, but not by a lot….

    And what happened to the good old Aussie battler?

  14. Reader April 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Sounds a bit silly to me. I know of someone who had quite a serious eye injury from a tennis ball, but even then I can’t see how you could “blame” anyone — it’s just a risk, albeit a small one, you accept when playing tennis. Being in the 0.001% who get that injury is unlucky, sure, but no reason to blame or sue anyone.

  15. hineata April 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Actually, there is someone the architect should sue – his old ‘alma mater’ for not teaching him the meaning of the word ‘accident’, which should have come up in spelling lists around age 7 or 8.

  16. hineata April 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    And speaking of sueing, last year we replaced our 70 year old kitchen (appliances quite a bit younger, at around 20 years). My old fridge and oven were very polite, just sat in the corner doing their jobs. These new ones seem to beep every few minutes. The oven wants to tell you it’s reached the required temperature, like it deserves a certificate or something. The fridge tells you off if you leave it open for too long, and the microwave complains loudly, through a series of nauseating beeps, if you don’t take stuff out of it fast enough.

    When I go insane from all this flipping noise, who should my husband sue – the manufacturers? Or God for my sensitivities?

    Or just be grateful that, with me safely locked up somewhere, there’ll be one less noise in the house?!

  17. Ben April 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    This is sad beyond belief. Tennis clubs are not required to provide protective eye wear. The girl should’ve moved out of the way to avoid the ball hitting her eye.

  18. EtobicokeMom April 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/11/29/toronto-balls-banned-school.html

    Discussing a short lived ban on all balls at one school here… Sooo ridiculous.

  19. Rachel Banzhaf April 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I could have sworn this was already posted here. It’s most likely the insurance companies behind the suit.

    When I was in high school I managed to whack a girl with a lacrosse stick while chasing the ball. I know anybody can have accidents, but maybe they should have placement tests for PE classes. Then they could put all the accident-prone kids together with extra supervision and put them on less injury-inclined activities.

    Better than crippling all PE classes equally!

  20. just2chicks April 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    People are so ignorant…

  21. Suze April 30, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    If I may comment on EtobicokeMom’s link…..

    I live in Ontario (which I am presuming from your name you are too) and was just shocked to hear this news story when it came out a few months ago. But I was even more shocked when I found out something else from a neighbour who is a elementary school teacher. She says this type of nonsense happens all the time at schools. Some teacher is out on yard duty and gets “accidentally” hit by some flying object whether it be a ball, frisbee, skipping rope etc. The teacher overreacts and they BAN that item from the playground; usually to have it reinstated a few weeks later after all the kids “have learned their lesson”…. YIKES !!!!

    Think what would happen if this started to be commonplace. What would be left for kids to do? Maybe they should start banning running also (sarcasm folks) I was hit with balls and other objects so many times on the playground when I was a kid, I lost count !!!! It never occurred to me that it was anything but normal; I was either in the way or didn’t move or just plain by accident. No one ever made a fuss. What a world we live in.

    And to Rachel…. I was hit square in the face as a teenager with a lacrosse stick in PE. I got a black eye and it broke my glasses. I really didn’t think much of it; got my glasses fixed and continued on with PE, school etc. I always chalked it up to an occupational hazard of wearing glasses for sports; they might get broken. No one sued, or banned the game !!!!

  22. Sue April 30, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Ridiculous. There is a certain amount of risk with any sport. Suing because you got hurt is the ultimate in poor sportsmanship.

  23. Emily April 30, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Suze–some schools actually have banned running on the playground. Anyway, this story made me think, if The Brady Bunch was filmed nowadays, maybe Marcia could have sued her brothers for accidentally hitting her in the face with a football.

  24. Maximuscatus April 30, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    Welcome to OZ Lenore. The patients are in the process of taking over the asylum and are vying for your attention.

  25. Catheirne Scott April 30, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    I’m also from Austrlaia and as a poor to lousy 8 year old tennis player broke my best friend’s nose with my un-co back hand.

    That being way back when she didn’t sue. But neither has she let me forget. :-)

  26. Emily April 30, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I lived in Australia for two years, and never encountered such insanity. We even played old-school bobbing for apples at International House last Halloween, complete with a communal tub of water–a veritable Olympic-sized swimming pool for germs……but everyone had fun, and nobody got sick.

  27. Rosemary April 30, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Wonderful to have you here for the Child Friendly City conference: here’s our first report about your visit: http://www.bendigoweekly.com.au/news/free-range-kids-advocate-heads-up-conference

  28. Shannon April 30, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    When I was in fourth grade, a couple of boys were throwing rocks at me and my friend. One bounced off a piece of playground equipment then hit me in the eye, causing me to spend a week in the hospital (blot clot in the eye that needed to stabilize – almost lost sight in the eye). No lawsuit was ever filed; the playground equipment and rocks remained. Stuff happens – wish more people got that.

  29. baby-paramedic April 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    This is the sort of area I live in (ie, near this school and in a hoity-toity area – inlaws built here before it was hoity-toity).
    And we all think it is ridiculous.

    Usually these sorts of cases get thrown in Australia. Hopefully that trend continues.

  30. John O'Connell April 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    . It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds. Being an Australian resident and familiar with the legal system here it would not surprise me that such a laughable claim is thrown out of court.
    I bet the parents are claiming because they did not bother to take out priivate health insurance.

  31. thechaoticflame April 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Shannon,

    That’s a terrible story! I can’t say I agree with your assessment of how it relates here, though. One accepts some level of risk by engaging in sports, and the risk level we expect is moderated by the particular sport. Thus, we might expect that tennis injuries would be substantially less common than ice hockey injuries. I doubt you intentionally engaged these boys in rock throwing (and thus did not demonstrate acceptance of the level of risk that is associated with having rocks thrown at you). I am 100% for removal and banning of items that are being intentionally misused in a way that poses serious risks.

  32. gwallan April 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    hineata said…
    “Maybe the architect father is having some kind of midlife crisis? Beats running off with the secretary, I guess, but not by a lot”

    What the hell does this have to do with anything?

  33. Chuck April 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    My uncle lost sight in one eye while playing tennis when in college in the late ’50s. Nobody sued anyone then. This was an unfortunate accident that occurred during sports.

  34. EricS April 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    I wonder where she got that idea from? Can anyone say PARENTS. I wonder if she ever learned the basics in tennis…yes, keep an eye on the ball, but when you see it coming at your face, the logical and smart thing is to move out of the way and hit it with your raquet. Yes, I’m calling this girl a dumbass. And in my years of playing tennis, and having joined various tennis clubs, not once have I ever seen it manditory for goggles. That was the discretion of the player. Too bad you can’t counter suit stupid and opportunistic people. Maybe only then, will people like this think twice about making a frivilous lawsuits.

  35. Selby May 1, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Parents: your kid is going to get hurt. At some point, possibly many different points in life, they are going to get hurt. Yes. I know. You don’t want that. Nobody does. But (and here’s where you need to be brave): most of the time, there’s nothing you can do about it. And (be braver): most of the time, there’s nobody you can blame.

    I’m sorry. This is life. We used to be much better at dealing with this because things like disease, famine, plague, and losing the farm occupied quite a bit of our time.

    Be brave. Don’t sue because shit happens.

  36. Dulcie May 1, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    my son broke his arm during the rollerblading unit in his elementary schools P.E. despite the fact that he was wearing wrist guards. Turns out, the reason he broke it was because the teacher didn’t know the proper way to put on the guards and had all the kids wearing them backwards, hence, he was unable to defend himself properly when he fell. It never occurred to us to sue, though it was an obvious screw-up on the teacher’s behalf. We just looked at it as a learning experience for all involved, including the teacher, who learned how to use the equipment the right way after the accident. Because that’s what it was, an ACCIDENT. We knew the teacher didn’t mean for our son to get hurt, just like this girl didn’t mean to smack her friend in the eye. It’s this crazy little thing called life, people need to learn to live it.

  37. Chris May 1, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    Interesting seeing the hate on for protective eyewear. I think we do our children a disservice to teach them to scorn safety glasses. I spend a lot of time in an industrial environment where safety eyewear is mandatory and I also play a lot of squash and racketball where it is optional and I find that very few people will wear eyewear if they don’t have to.
    Proper sports eyewear doesn’t get in the way, fog up or fall off. I know we like to diss the “safety first” establishment here but that doesn’t mean that there is never any value in such safety equipment.

  38. hineata May 1, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    @gwallan – just meant that in the original post, the ‘suing’ father was the architect, which by itself means nothing, but a couple of other things-

    1/ He’s Australian, and as far as I know – Aussies are our near neighbours – it’s rare for Australians to do something as dumb as sue over a whacked eyeball in tennis. Ockers play sport all the time – they often beat the crap out of us, sad to say – and they are not known for being wusses or pansies.

    2/ Hence, I assumed the father was having some kind of midlife crisis, to even consider suing over something so ridiculous….

    My other post about the beeping and moaning appliances was the more ridiculous one – I was actually making a weak attempt to be funny, and point out how stupid lawsuits are. My sense of humour can itself be as stupid as my frigging, babyish oven….

    Go Oz- may this sort of nonsense not become a regular thing…..

  39. gwallan May 1, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    @hineata…

    “which by itself means nothing”

    Which is all you know about the individual concerned. If he was the mother would you be dreaming up scenarios involving hormones or suggesting a bad dose of PMT?

  40. hineata May 1, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    It’s the fathers that are mentioned in the article. Not sure why this is bothering you. And actually, yes I would (PMT etc) if it was the mothers mentioned. Because the situation itself is ridiculous…..The behaviour of the father who is sueing is irrational – hence my questioning his current mental state.

    Have a nice day.

  41. Christy Rachelle Ford May 1, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    It’s TENNIS, for pity’s sake. What did they think it was going to involve?!

  42. pentamom May 2, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    hineata, if it makes you feel better, I have that same annoyance over the microwave. I’LL TAKE IT OUT WHEN I’M READY, THANK YOU!! The stove thing doesn’t bother me because I’ll often set it to preheat and go off and do something else, so I appreciate the aural reminder. Thankfully, I don’t have that refrigerator. I guess that’s something to “look forward to” when mine has to be replaced.

  43. Jackie May 2, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    I played organized soccer in middle school. I wore glasses at the time with pretty thick lenses. While I was on defense, a ball was kicked and came at me so fast I had no time to duck, so it hit my glasses, knocked them off and knocked one lens out, and I got a small cut under my eye. We put the lens back in the glasses, cleaned my cut, and I was back on the field. No lawsuits, no blame-it was an ACCIDENT. Like others have said here-crap happens. Sometimes there is actually no one to blame.

  44. Baseball Mum May 2, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Can I say it? Take a spoon full of cement and harden up, Princess!
    It wasn’t an attack, equipment wasn’t being misused, she was playing tennis. Would anyone be suing if she’d rolled an ankle or fallen and ripped open a knee? I doubt it. Both of my daughters play baseball and not the well guarded kind that was mentioned in a previous comment. They play in mixed teams with only the standard protective gear that all players wear. The 14 year old also in mixed adult teams. I know the risks involved. Surely these tennis parents do too.

  45. Dacianx June 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    nice …despre

  46. Warren September 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

    @Baseball Mum

    My daughter plays ball, and will be the first one to tell you, that playing anything comes with an inherint risk of injury.
    She even refuses to wear the facecage on her batting helmet. The league tried to force her, but she stood tall.

    With my support the cage is now a personal choice, and not mandatory. So proud of her.

    Must be something about playing ball, the whole take one for the team, that makes em tougher.

    Sounds like our kids would hit it off, huh?

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