SEWICKLEY, Pa. — A 14-year-old boy filed a lawsuit, and won, after he was hit in the head by a fly ball while playing a Little League game in Sewickley.
He's still suffering from a traumatic brain injury years later.
A jury awarded Zachary Hoffman $1.7 million in damages in his case against Sewickley Borough, and the Avonworth and Quaker Valley athletic associations.
"He'll never be 100%. Traumatic brain injuries change you as a person they take things away,” said Alan Perer, an attorney at SPK Law.
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It all started with a pitch at Chadwick Field in Sewickley.
That pitch would change 14-year-old Little League player Hoffman's life forever.
At age 11-- one day shy of his 12th birthday-- Hoffman who was playing for the Avonworth Athletic Association was standing in a dugout when he was hit by a line-drive foul ball.
"It went through the open area in the fencing and struck Zach on the left side of the head in the temple area,” the lawsuit states. "He suffered bleeding on his brain...within hours he was in lifesaving surgery at Children's Hospital to relieve pressure and blood from his brain."
The injury is life-lasting.
A jury ruled in his favor on Tuesday and awarded him $1.7 million in his lawsuit against the Sewickley borough, and the Avonworth and Quaker Valley athletic associations.
Lawyers said they were responsible for the injury because the dugout was not properly covered.
Zac's attorney says they made some serious safety modifications approximately one week after the accident including fixing the opening in the fencing where the backstop ends and the dugout begins.
According to the lawsuit, that area was initially not covered by any fencing or screening at the time of the incident.
Hoffman's attorney said no amount of money will repair the pain and anguish the family has endured.
However, he hopes it brings change for other youth sports organizations.
"Hopefully it will set a precedent that improves the safety for children,” Perer said.
Channel 11 reached out to the borough and the Avonworth Athletic Association for reaction to the settlement, but neither gave a comment.
Cox Media Group