LaPenna family seeks $10M in death of son on Little League field


The Long Beach family of Lazar LaPenna, the Little Leaguer who collapsed and died last April at Point Lookout Park after reportedly suffering a seizure on the field, has filed a notice of claim against Hempstead town and other jurisdictions. That claim — generally filed against a municipality ahead of a lawsuit — alleges required life-saving equipment was not available when LaPenna died.

Evan Richards, of the Bellmore law firm Baker Greenspan Bernstein, said Monday afternoon the LaPenna family seeks $10 million in damages against the town, Nassau County, the Lido-Point Lookout Fire Department, Long Beach and the Hamlet of Point Lookout. "We're seeking monetary damages for a wrongful death," Richards said. "They were required to have a defibrillator on hand, and they did not have one."

The device, the lawyer claims, is required by state law.

The suit is expected to be filed on behalf of Lazar's father, Gregg LaPenna, a well-known restaurant and sports tavern owner in Long Beach. The notice of claim was filed July 27, Richards added, with the lawsuit expected to be filed in Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola.

Hempstead town spokesman Greg Blower told the Herald that officials there do not comment on ongoing litigation. Other jurisdictions could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lazar had been diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age, but the disorder never stopped him from playing the game he loved. He was playing April 29 and, after slamming a single into the outfield, collapsed as he rounded first base.

His older brother Jerry was coaching at first base, cheering Lazar along when he collapsed. 

Richards said the seizure caused Lazar's heart to stop, but the absence of an automated external defibrillator, or something similar, led to the boy's death.

"No amount of money can return Lazar to his family," Richards said, in a statement, "but the LaPenna family is entitled to justice for the wrongful death of their son. Gregg also wants to make sure that every baseball field and other types of stadiums and fields have defibrillators moving forward as required by New York state law."

Lazar's death ripped through Long Beach. The Little League canceled the remainder of the games the weekend of his death. The Long Beach school district and the Long Beach city council both took notice of the tragedy.

A Little League parade was held in Lazar's honor, and the New York Mets posted condolences.