In one of the most heartbreaking stories of the 2017 MLB season, outfielder Dustin Fowler suffered a serious knee injury during his major league debut with the New York Yankees. Fowler slammed into the wall down the right field line at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. The injury required emergency surgery and ended Fowler’s season before he could even get a plate appearance.
And the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Fowler is suing the White Sox and state agency — the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority — that manages Guaranteed Rate Field.
Fowler’s lawsuit claims the White Sox and the state agency were “negligent in not securing the unpadded electrical box he collided with along the right field line during the June 29 game.”
The lawsuit also claims that the White Sox and state agency “knew of the unsafe condition and had ample time to improve them before the incident.”
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority acted negligently by not securing the metal box or taking precautions to prevent players from colliding with it. In addition, the suit alleges the White Sox and Sports Facilities Authority failed to adequately inspect the right field wall and the box. The box was installed at knee-level “in a manner so as to create a hidden and undetectable hazard” to Fowler and other ballplayers, the suit alleges. By failing to properly pad, guard or cover the exposed box, the defendants showed “an utter indifference to or conscious disregard” for Fowler’s safety.
Both the Sox and the the agency knew of the unsafe condition and had ample time to improve them before the incident, the suit claims.
The lawsuit adds that Fowler suffered “‘severe and permanent’ internal and external injuries, as well as mental pain and anguish,” and was forced to spend “large sums of money” for medical care.
Fowler was traded to the Oakland Athletics on July 31 as part of the Sonny Gray trade, and was a highly regarded prospect before the injury. He had a .293/.329/.542 slash line with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases in 2017 at Triple-A, and was ranked as the Yankees’ No. 6 prospect on Baseball America’s midseason list.