Minor League Baseball Player Sues Hospital for Fall in Draft

June 9th, 2016 marked the start of the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. Many high school and colleges players watched intently, hoping their names would be called for their chance at making the MLB.

In the MLB, each pick has a predetermined monetary value attached to it. Each team has a different amount they can spend on the whole draft without accruing a penalty. This process ensures that players drafted earlier usually get the slotted value at a minimum and often have a chance to sign for more, thus the later picks are lucky if they sign for the allotted amount.

Coming into the draft, agents and scouts often talk to get an idea if a player has a chance to be drafted, and if so, where they may be taken in the draft. Pablo Salazar III was one of many players who knew they would be drafted, it was just a matter of how early would his name be called, as he was projected to be a pick between the 3rd and 8th rounds.

In 2012, Salazar had an arthroscopic elbow surgery, which is common for baseball players. After this procedure, Salazar continued to produce at a high level in high school and was ranked as the 19th best player in Texas at one point. However, when it came to the 2016 MLB draft he fell to the 11th round.

Salazar found out that after his elbow surgery at Texas Orthopedic Hospital, the radiologist labeled the images of his elbow as his hip. This was included in the file that is reviewed by all MLB teams.

Salazar has now filed suit against Texas Orthopedic Hospital for negligence. The petition states, “The mislabeling of the image is a serious issue because medical problems with a pitcher’s hip and any surgery performed on a hip will definitely cause that player to be less desirable to an MLB team. While problems with a pitcher’s elbow are common, medical problems with a pitcher’s hip can be very serious and can prevent that person from playing for an MLB team.”

Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care, resulting in a damage or injury to another. Salazar claims in the petition that, “TOH has admitted that this was in error by the radiological technician.” If this is true, Salazar will have to prove that this was influential to his falling in the draft. Salazar is able to sue the hospital for the error because the radiologist was performing within their specified job role, meaning they are an agent for the hospital.

Salazar will likely use scouts and general managers of teams as witnesses on behalf of his case. These witnesses will have to attest that if the image was not mislabeled he would have been drafted earlier in the draft. If Salazar can show that this image, and not poor on-field performance, was the reason for his fall in the draft, he is likely to win his negligence claim against TOH.

I do not believe that this case will go to trial, but if it does, look for TOH to try to show that he fell in the draft purely because there were better players available. Salazar’s stats were not slacking in his senior year and he was offered a scholarship to the University of Arkansas for baseball. These are just a few of the facts that make Salazar’s case against TOH strong, but if his case is to be successful in court it will entirely depend if he can find enough teams that are willing to say the mislabeled surgery is the reason that he was not selected earlier in the draft.

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