Who Gets Sued?

Dearborn, ball association at odds over liability clause

The City of Dearborn covered its bases Monday night on a proposed softball contract which would allow the North Platte Softball Association to utilize the Dearborn ballfield during May, June and July. 

As it stands right now, one clause prevents the North Platte Softball Association representative from fully recommending the signing of the contract to the North Platte Softball Association Board: a “boilerplate” contract clause stating the organization would be responsible for any legal fees incurred by the City in the event of spectators being hurt during a game and the City being sued.

“That’s not something I’ve had to deal with in the City of Edgerton, so I don’t know how the (North Platte Ball Association) Board would feel about that,” North Platte Ball Association and Edgerton Ball Association representative T.J. Adkins said. “I can’t give them direction one way or another. The way that reads we would be liable for all your costs and I’m not sure an organization that has insurance, is being responsible, paying our insurance — and now we’re going to be liable for the City’s costs?”

The North Platte Ball Association carries insurance on each of its players and umpires and liability insurance in the event of injury, such as a spectator tripping and falling off the bleachers. As part of the contract, the North Platte Ball Association would add the City of Dearborn to its liability insurance at cost to the Association.

However, the big issue with the clause in the contract is in its wording, which Adkins calls open-ended and opens the Association up to paying all attorney fees without any discussion with the Association by the City.

On the other hand, Dearborn lawyer Dan Fowler said the clause is fairly standard in lease contracts.

“If I recall correctly, the way that’s written, if Dearborn were to get sued because of something you did — the Ball Association did, the Ball Association has to hold Dearborn indemnified — hold it harmless —which means if you did it, you have to pay us to defend your lawsuit because the City would incur legal fees for something you did,” Fowler said.