For most Little Leaguers, memories of hits, throws and catches accompany them to adulthood. For 13-year-old Matthew Migliaccio of Manchester Township, N.J., a lawsuit against him may be his defining Little League memory.
Two years ago, Matthew, a catcher, was warming up his pitcher in the bullpen before a Manchester Little League game. Matthew, then 11, overthrew his pitcher, sailing a ball over the fenced-in bullpen area along the third base line. Elizabeth Lloyd, who was sitting at a picnic table watching her son play, was hit in the face by the ball.
Matthew did not ignore the situation.
"I ran over to see if she was all right," he said in an interview, with his father at his side, with The Asbury Park Press. "She said she was OK. I was just on with warming the pitcher up, and I was not horsing around."
Lloyd, who was taken to the emergency room, sustained multiple fractures and later underwent reconstructive surgery and suffers from headaches.
And now, she is suing Matthew for $500,000 in damages.
The 45-year-old Manchester woman filed a lawsuit April 24 in state Superior Court, Law Division against Matthew after negotiations for a settlement with insurance companies failed. The lawsuit claims the Little Leaguer intentionally struck Lloyd and left her with permanent injuries.
"He throws his best fast ball over the bullpen into the picnic area, striking my client in the face," Riaz A. Mian, Lloyd's attorney, told the Asbury Park Press. "Life is now different for my client."
(No news on how Mian will claim a catcher was trying to throw his best fastball at his pitcher.)
For Matthew, baseball is more than a hobby. The youngster, a Yankee fan, plays on three different teams, including the middle school team. His father, Bob Migliaccio, hopes this will not affect his passion for the game.
"Baseball is his thing," the elder Migliaccio told the Press. "He is always out there playing -- he loves it. I don't want that to change because of this."
Bob Migliaccio has been surprised by the league's lack of help in the dispute. He has taken a break from coaching in the league, while his wife, Sue, has halted her duties as manager of the league's snack stand.
According to Steve Barr, media relations director for Little League, local leagues are only required to provide insurance for league-related personnel (coaches, players, etc.) in league-related activities. Providing insurance for spectators is not mandatory for leagues. Signs at the Manchester Little League Complex warn spectators about foul balls, but nowhere is the danger of overthrown balls posted.
As Matthew focuses on his play on the field, he will have to defend his Little League accident off the field.
Migliaccio family lawyer Anthony Pagano believes Lloyd should be ashamed. "The litigation itself is disgusting," he told the Press.
Disgusting or not, it might be up to Pagano and the Migliacios to defend errant Little League throws around the world, if there is going to be a legal precedent set here.
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