Injured Catcher Files Lawsuit in Baseball Assault

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Player's career ended with bat attack; sues for $4.8 million

February 12, 2009

Left to right: Atty. Josh Koskoff, John Nathans and Mr. Nathans' fiancee, Kate Lawrence.

BRIDGEPORT — An attack with a baseball bat by former Major League All Star Jose Offerman during a professional baseball game has ended a catcher’s career. Now the former catcher is filing suit against Offerman.

John Nathans was a catcher for the Bridgeport Bluefish when he tried to defend his pitcher from an assault by a bat-wielding Offerman of the Long Island Ducks.

The Connecticut firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder today announced that the federal lawsuit was filed because of the permanent injuries Nathans sustained in the highly publicized on-field assault.

“We have all occasionally seen enraged batters drop their bats and charge the mound after being hit by a pitch,” said Atty. Josh Koskoff, who is representing Nathans. “But Offerman charged the mound, swinging his bat at the pitcher when he hit John in the head.”

The incident occurred at Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard Stadium where the Bluefish were playing against the Long Island Ducks. Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech accidentally hit Ducks batter Jose Offerman with a pitch. Rather than proceeding to first base, as required by the rules of the game, Offerman charged the pitcher’s mound with his bat raised. Nathans sprinted after Offerman to protect Beech. Offerman swung the bat and hit Nathans in the head. “Had John not been there to protect his pitcher, there is no telling what Offerman would have done to Beech with his bat,” Koskoff added.

Offerman had hit a home run on the first pitch of the game. His next time at bat, Beech threw an inside pitch that hit him in the calf. Beech acknowledged he was trying to pitch Offerman inside but said he wasn't aiming to hit him. The attack cleared both benches and the game was delayed about 20 minutes.

Fans in the stadium began chanting at Offerman, “Lock him up.”

Nathans, 28 at the time of the incident, sustained a serious concussion that not only ended his career as a baseball player but has caused debilitating and permanent injuries.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, says that the assault caused Nathans a brain concussion, vertigo, inner ear damage, continual headaches, post concussion syndrome, and vestibular dysfunction (the vestibular system helps stabilize vision), among other injuries. He will never be able to resume his baseball career.

“We were hopeful that there would be some improvement in John’s condition,” said Koskoff, “but the symptoms have persisted and the doctors have indicated that John’s condition is permanent.”

The lawsuit asks for $4.8 million in compensation for the loss of his career in baseball, medical expenses, and ongoing medical problems he will face for the rest of his life.

Offerman at first denied hitting anyone although he was arrested for felony assault after the incident. He was later granted accelerated rehabilitation on two counts of second-degree assault and was given two years probation. “Offerman had an outstanding career and it’s a shame that it ended this way,” said Koskoff. “It’s time for him to accept responsibility for what he has done,” he added.

Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport, Danbury and New Haven. The nationally known law firm has achieved record verdicts for people who suffer serious personal injuries or economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil or constitutional rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate or governmental abuse and commercial misconduct.