A spectator who was hit in the face with a foul ball in 1997 at a Prince William Cannons game filed a civil lawsuit against the team and the County Board of Supervisors this week, seeking $1 million for her injuries.
Donna P. Thurmond, who was hit during a game between the Cannons and the Lynchburg Hillcats on Aug. 23, 1997, says in her lawsuit that the team, the owners of Pfitzner Stadium and county officials did not properly warn spectators as to "the nature of activities" at the ballpark and that their carelessness led to her injuries.
The lawsuit, filed in Prince William County Circuit Court, says that Thurmond was sitting in an unprotected spectator area of the stadium during the Cannons' 4-1 victory and that she was struck about 10 p.m., "when one of the participants in the baseball game . . . hit a pitched ball and drove it with great force directly into the spectator area where [Thurmond] was seated, striking her in the face and causing extensive injury and damages to her."
Although each ticket to the game clearly displays a liability disclaimer, Thurmond argues through her attorneys that the facilities did not make appropriate attempts to protect their patrons. Last year, more than 220,000 people attended Cannons games at Pfitzner Stadium, and "maybe a handful" of patrons in the past three seasons have been injured, said Mike Antonellis, spokesman for the Potomac Cannons (formerly the Prince William Cannons).
Antonellis said that he remembered the Aug. 23 game in which Thurmond was hurt, and that she was hit by a foul ball that was sent into the crowd along the third-base line. Antonellis said the organization is "very careful" about posting warnings regarding the possible dangers of baseball, including a regular pregame recording and periodic reminders throughout the game.
"We do a lot of things to make sure to remind people that it can be dangerous, and if you don't know that balls are going to go into the crowd, you shouldn't come," Antonellis said. "We felt terrible that something happened, but it happens. When I was 8 years old, I knew balls went into the stands."