Alex Teixeira (JD ’18) Wins the 45th Annual Stanley Moot Court Competition

Stanley Finalists

Stanley Finalists Brooke Boutwell ’18 (left) & Alex Teixeira ’18 (right)

Alex Teixeira ’18 won the final round of the 45th annual Edwin M. Stanley Moot Court Competition held at Wake Forest School of Law on Friday, November 18, 2016. Teixeira represented fictional plaintiff, Sharon Weaver, arguing that the defendant, the Cumberland Cougars, owed a duty of care to protect spectators, like Ms. Weaver, from foul balls that enter the concession areas, in addition to the stands. Runner up finalist, Brooke Boutwell ’18 represented the fictional defendant, Appellee Cumberland Cougars, LLC, and contended that the District Court correctly predicted that Maryland would adopt the baseball rule. According to Boutwell, this rule, which required the defendant only to provide a screened area behind home plate, shields the defendant from liability.

Both Teixeira and Boutwell received high compliments from the three judges on the panel regarding their direct answering of questions, understanding of the case law, and overall presentation.

Several awards were given out after the finalists presented their arguments to the court. Texiera won the James C. Berkowitz Award for best oralist and Anna-Bryce Flow ’18 was the runner up. Kelsey Mellan ’18 won the award for best brief and Daniel McClurg ’18 was the runner up.

In addition to the finalists, the Moot Court Board is honored to welcome the following  students as new members to the Moot Court Board: Nick Bedo, Libby Casale, Michael Fleming, Anna-Bryce Flowe, John McCool, Kelsey Mellan, and John Allen Riggins. Congratulations to all the new members!

A special thank you to Erica Oates and Ethan White for an excellent job as the Stanley Competition co-chairs! The Stanley Moot Court Competition would not have been a success without your hard work and organization.

The Stanley Competition is an intramural moot court competition held each fall semester and open to all second and third-year law students. This competition is held in honor of Judge Edwin M. Stanley, a distinguished Wake Forest alumnus and supporter, who served as a United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina from 1958 to 1968.

The summary of the case at issue is as follows:

Plaintiff Sharon Weaver is a resident of Clemmons, North Carolina, while Defendant Cumberland Cougars, LLC operates a minor league baseball team that plays its home games in Cougar Park in Cumberland, Maryland. 

Weaver attended a Cougars game on July 4, 2013, with her young children, her brother, and his young children.  They bought the “best available” seats online and were given seats behind home plate, which were protected from foul balls by a screen. Weaver had never been to Cougars Park.  She had attended several baseball games in the past and was aware that foul balls are sometimes hit into the stands. 

Before the game and during the third inning, an audio announcement, which was also projected on the scoreboard, warned fans to look out for balls and bats leaving the field of play.  After the seventh inning stretch, Weaver went to a concession stand on the third base side of the ballpark to buy drinks.  The concession stand was on a concourse behind the stands and placed so that people in line stood facing away from the field.  When Weaver was waiting in line, she sensed a stir in the crowd, turned to her left, and was hit by a foul ball. She suffered serious injuries. 

Weaver sued Defendant in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.  The law of Maryland applies, including its negligence and assumption of the risk principles, but Maryland has not had a previous reported case involving foul balls.  The District Court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on the “Baseball Rule,” a limited duty rule providing that baseball ballpark operators owe no duty to protect spectators from foul balls other than providing a screened area behind home plate.  The Baseball Rule is a majority rule, but courts in some states have rejected it entirely or held that it applies only in the stands.  Weaver has appealed to the Fourth Circuit.