BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A former minor league baseball player hit by former major leaguer Jose Offerman in a 2007 baseball bat attack won nearly $1 million in a lawsuit on Tuesday, an attorney said.
A jury awarded $940,000 to Johnathan Nathans, who had sought $4.8 million, his lawyer Josh Koskoff said. Nathans was a catcher for the Bridgeport Bluefish when the incident happened. He is still affected by the head injury he suffered in the attack, though he has made some recovery and is now an attorney in Portland, Maine, his lawyer said. Nathans played for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2003 and 2004. “What we really were looking for after seven years was accountability for Mr. Offerman,” Koskoff said.
The lawsuit said Offerman, playing for the Long Island Ducks in a major league comeback bid, was hit by a pitch and then charged the mound with his bat and hit Nathans and pitcher Matt Beech. Nathans’ injury ended his baseball career, and Beech broke a finger on his non-throwing hand.
Offerman, who played for the Red Sox, the Dodgers and other teams during his career, testified he didn’t swing his bat at the two players. The Ducks, also named in the lawsuit, denied responsibility.
Offerman’s lawyer, Frank Riccio II, said the verdict is complicated because the jury found that Offerman committed an assault by making Beech, not Nathans, fear he was about to be hit but also determined that Offerman did not commit battery. In addition, the jury did not find the Ducks liable, Riccio said.
“I think the verdict is inconsistent and a bit perplexing,” he said. “Mr. Offerman is certainly happy seven years later that a jury said he did not strike Mr. Nathans.”
He said further litigation is possible.
“How is Mr. Offerman liable for damages if (the) jury found he never struck him?” Riccio asked. “It’s an interesting question that has to be resolved before it gets to its final end.”