The following piece originally appeared over at ContractsProf Blog on June 23, 2008. Long before Rob Dibble threw a ball into the crowd at Riverfront Stadium and Roger McDowell went all homophobic in San Francisco…Ross Grimsley lost his cool in Boston.
Above is a picture of Fenway Park (actual size!), site of Ross Grimsley’s immortality as an icon of scope of employment doctrine. On September 16, 1975, some Red Sox fans were doing their best to encourage Grimsley, who was warming up to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles.
Grimsley was so grateful to the Boston faithful that he decided to provide them with a souvenir. He hurled a baseball into the crowd. It penetrated the protective netting and struck plaintiff, who then sued Grimsley and his team (but not, for mysterious reasons, the obviously negligent Red Sox who failed to maintain the protective netting).
The liabiility of the Baltimore Orioles turned on whether Grimsley was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of his mis-directed pitch. In Massachussetts, a servant acts in the scope of employment if, among other things, her use of force is in response to conduct from the planitiff that “presently interferes” with the servant’s duties.
The court found that the heckling during Grimsley’s warm-ups was indeed a present interference with Grimsley’s work and thus held that the Orioles could be vicariously liable for Grimsley’s tort.
ContractsProf Blog is a member of the Law Professor Blogs Network…something I never knew existed until I looked up “Ross+Grimsley+limerick” (don’t ask) on the Googles.