In June of 2006, Steven Domalewski, 12, was pitching for his Little League baseball team, something he had done many times before. This game, and one particular pitch, proved to be very different then any other and changed his life forever.
Steven, who is now 18 and lives in Wayne, N.J., was pitching in a Police Athletic League game when the opposing batter drove a line drive off a Louisville Slugger metal bat. The ball headed straight for Steven and struck him in the chest just above the heart. He immediately grabbed his chest with one hand and reached for the ball on the ground with his other, trying to make a play at first base. He never reached the ball however, instead, falling to the ground in cardiac arrest, he stopped breathing and began turning blue from a lack of oxygen.
People began yelling "call 911" and a bystander who was playing catch with his daughter began giving Steven CPR. Paramedics, who were only a quarter of a mile way giving a CPR training class, arrived at the baseball field within minutes. They administered oxygen to Steven via an oxygen mask and transported to the hospital. However, Steven had been without oxygen to the brain for an estimated 15-20 minutes, and the damage to his brain was already done.
In an interview with the Associated Press in 2008, Steven's father, Joseph Domalewski, is quoted as saying: "Pretty much, he died," "It was just so fast. The thud, you could hear. When it hit him, that seemed to echo."
Doctors told the family that Steven was left with permanent brain damage and will require care for the remainder of his life. His family decided to file a law suit against Louisville Slugger and Little League Baseball, who certified that the metal bats used were approved for and safe for use in games involving children. On Wednesday, the state Superior Court in Passaic County announced a $14.5 million settlement in the case.
Ernest Fronzuto, the attorney for the Domalewski family, said after the settlement announcement: “The Domalewskis are still saddened by the tragic events of June 2006, but this settlement provides them with some relief and comfort that Steven will get the care he needs for the rest of his life.” “He still can’t perform any functions of daily life on his own.”
President and CEO of Little League Baseball Inc. Stephen Keener said the settlement guarantees that "Steven Domalewski will receive the lifetime care he will require as a result of this tragic accident, a type of accident that is extremely rare in youth baseball." Rick Redman, a spokesman for Hillerich and Bradsby, who manufactures the Louisville Slugger brand bat, confirmed a settlement had been reached, but declined further comment.