Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Madison County jury finds for defendants in softball player's injury case

By Ann Maher | Mar 4, 2016


Madison County jurors on Wednesday found in favor of a softball tournament organizer who was sued more than seven years ago by a player who got hurt while covering first base.

The 12-person jury ruled for DeCamp Junction and organizer Jim Moultrie in a case plaintiff Gregory Gvillo brought in September 2008 involving a tournament held a year earlier.

Gvillo blamed the defendants for not following Amateur Softball Association’s Rules of Softball (ASA Rules), which require that a first base must be a double base, 15 inches by 30 inches. He claimed that half of the base should have been white and in fair territory and the other half should have been orange or green and in foul territory, but was not.

He claimed the base in question was only 15 inches by 15 inches, was all white and all in fair territory.

Gvillo also claimed that ASA rules state that there should have been a running lane - a 30-foot line drawn in foul territory three feet parallel from the base line starting halfway between home and first, and extending to the back of first.

His alleged injuries occurred after a batter hit a ground ball, which was caught and thrown to him. The batter ran towards first base and allegedly crashed into Gvillo.

He blamed the defendants for failing to properly prepare the field, alleging they “undertook to organize, sponsor and/or supervise a softball tournament being held on” the defendants' property.

Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian presided over trial.

Defendants were represented by Robert H. Gregory of East Alton.

Attorney Christopher Donohoo of East Alton represented Gvillo.

Before trial started, Donohoo filed several motions in limine. He sought to bar evidence related to:

- Defendants' "lack of intent" to harm Gvillo as being irrelevant and "more prejudicial than probative."

- Gvillo's consumption of one beer before Aron Klenke collided with him at first base. "The consumption of one beer does not amount to intoxication and has no bearing on the issues in the case."

- Gvillo's possible medical payments or benefits.

- Settlement reached between Gvillo and Klenke.

- Whether Klenke intended to collide with Gvillo.

- Relating to Gvillo's team name at the time of the sign up. "Someone other than the Plaintiff originally signed up Gvillo's team to play in Defendants' league using an offensive name," Donohoo wrote. 

Defense motions in limine sought to bar evidence:

- Regarding the fact that a two-base first base system was either installed or used at DeCamp Junction subsequent to the date of Gvillo's injury. "Subsequent remedial measures are inadmissible," Gregory wrote.

- That softball games played at DeCamp Junction are money-making ventures.

- As to whether any witness has been prevented from participating in the summer softball league at DeCamp Junction after plaintiff filed this lawsuit.

Gvillo had claimed he suffered a fractured humerus and ulnar damage, among other things, and sought in excess of $50,000 in damages.

More than two years ago, Matoesian had granted a defense motion for summary judgment on the first day trial was to have begun in November 2013.

Matoesian agreed with Gregory, who had argued that his clients were immune from liability under a provision of the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act.

Gvillo appealed Matoesian's summary judgment ruling.

On March 11, 2015, the Fifth District Appellate Court found in favor of Gvillo, holding that at the time of his alleged injury, the immunity provision was applicable only to property open to the public for use in hunting and recreational shooting.

Gvillo amended his complaint last September, and Matoesian set trial to begin Feb. 29.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 08-L-871.

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