James Falzon, who suffered facial fractures and broken teeth, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, the New York Daily News reported on its website on Monday. A handful of other lawsuits have been filed by fans over the years seeking compensation after they were hit by broken maple bats.
"With the increase in the usage of maple bats came a marked increase in incidences where bats broke and exploded on contact with a pitched baseball," said the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. "The shrapnel from the broken maple bats flew out toward players, umpires, coaches and fans at an alarming rate."
Falzon filed a separate suit against Mets second baseman Luis Castillo, whose bat splintered on a fly ball, and former Mets catcher Ramon Castro, who had lent the bat to Castillo. Falzon, 50, was sitting along the second row down the third-base line when he was hit in August 2007.
Maple bats, which have gained popularity since sluggers like all-time homer run champ Barry Bonds began turning to them a decade ago, have become controversial in recent years. Major League Baseball convened a meeting in June 2008 after a rash of injuries from splintered maple bat, including to Pittsburgh Pirates hitting coach Don Long, whose cheek was slashed earlier that season.
While MLB hasn't cracked down much in the majors, several maple bats were banned from use in the minors this season.