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Death of minor league player results in flurry of lawsuits

July 9, 1997

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) _ A motorist involved in the death of a minor league baseball player plans to sue his estate and the New York Mets organization she says allowed the 20-year-old to drink on a team bus.

Bunny Runge already faces a suit filed by the parents of Tim Bishop, who was killed April 18 along a South Carolina interstate while returning from a minor league baseball game for the Class A Capital City Bombers, a New York Mets farm team.

Police said Bishop stopped his car in the middle of a traffic lane to check a blown tire. He apparently was returning to the car to turn on his hazard lights when his vehicle was struck by Runge. The impact threw Bishop over the highway retaining wall and into a southbound lane. He was then struck by a second vehicle driven by Krista Kell.

Police have cleared Runge and Kell of any wrongdoing.

Investigators determined that Bishop, a promising outfielder, was drinking on the team bus during the return trip to Columbia, S.C., from Hagerstown, Md. He had a blood alcohol content of .096 when he was killed.

Runge’s lawyer, Jim Anders, said Bishop is the one to blame for the wreck. Runge and her husband, Tommy Runge, were both seriously injured in the accident, and Tommy Runge hasn’t been able to walk since April 18.

Anders said the Runges intend to file a counterclaim against the Bishops and a lawsuit against the Mets.

``We feel the driver (Tim Bishop) was negligent and that the Mets were negligent in allowing young people to drink on the bus,″ Anders said.

Mary Lou Bishop said she and her husband don’t plan to sue the Bombers or the Mets. But their suit claims Runge and Kell were negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to keep their vehicles under control, driving too fast for conditions, failing to avoid hitting Bishop and failing to apply brakes in time.

The Valparaiso, Ind., couple’s lawsuit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages.

``We lost our son and our life is in shambles,″ said a tearful Mary Lou Bishop as she referred questions to her South Carolina lawyer, Kenneth Suggs.

After the incident, the Mets fired a manager and two coaches of the Capital City Bombers, claiming they did not do enough when they learned there had been drinking on the bus.

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