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Little Leaguer Wins Day in Court

February 21, 1996

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Johnny Lupoli had quite an offseason.

Instead of polishing his control, the Little League pitcher was caught up in court proceedings that ended Tuesday when a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the 9-year-old.

The decision ended a 2 1/2-month ordeal for the Wallingford boy, who was sued in December by a woman who was injured when one of his wild throws caught her smack in the face.

``It’s been 2 1/2-months of hell for the family. Johnny hasn’t wanted to talk about it,″ said his mother, Susan Lupoli. ``It has really been bothering him. When he did want to talk about it, he always asked `Mommy, do you really think we can win this?‴

Johnny was in school when Judge Ronald Fraccasse banged his gavel in New Haven Superior Court and dismissed the case. His mother and attorney, Todd Bainer, were present for the decision.

The suit was dismissed on a technicality, with the judge ruling a child cannot be sued as a sole defendant.

``I’m on cloud nine,″ Susan Lupoli said. ``I think he’s going to be very much relieved. It’s been bothering him very much.″

Carol LaRosa of Wallingford was seeking $15,000 or more. She could not be reached Tuesday for comment. Her attorney, Joseph DeLucia, did not return a call by The Associated Press.

LaRosa was sitting near the bleachers at a Wallingford ball field on May 6 when she was hit by a baseball after Johnny’s teammate did not make the catch during a warmup.

LaRosa accused Johnny, then in the third grade, of being careless. She claimed he failed to warn LaRosa he was throwing the ball, and ``threw the baseball at a hard and dangerous speed.″

LaRosa said she was cut and needed stitches. She also said she sustained permanent injuries that caused jaw and joint pain, headaches, a cyst on her cheek, anxiety and shock.

Bainer said he wanted the case dismissed because it is improper to sue a child in civil court without naming a parent or legal guardian as an additional defendant.

Lupoli sent her son to baseball clinics to help him get through the ordeal, and has been trying to convince him he is not responsible.

``He was very upset after it happened,″ she said. ``He was supposed to pitch that day. He asked the coach to take him out of the game. He wanted to quit after it happened.

``I wanted him to feel he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was just being a little boy and she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.″

Lupoli hopes the ruling will get her son back on the mound this spring.

``He says he wants to play baseball again this season, although he didn’t want to go to sign-ups,″ she said. ``We’ll see what this year brings. There’s always that mother’s dream that he’ll develop into something big.

``He’s always wanted to pitch for the Yankees and play outside linebacker for the New York Giants.″

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