N.H. College Student Hit in Eye by Baseball Sues

August 1, 2018

A Dartmouth College student who was seriously injured during baseball practice is suing the Ivy League school.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Colton French said he was pitching to a batter in a narrow indoor area enclosed by netting in February 2016. It was French’s first time using a tall L-shaped screen designed to protect the pitcher with a cut-out section to allow the ball to be thrown. After one of his pitches, he failed to keep his head behind the metal screen, and a batter hit the ball into French’s face, breaking bones and crushing his right eye socket.

He said he lost the vision in that eye, missed the rest of that school year because of his injuries and has required surgeries and other medical treatment costing more than $430,000. He can no longer play baseball or other sports, and “will be unable to engage in any job or profession which requires full peripheral vision, depth perception, or ability to visualize small details.”

“As a result of his injuries, and their life-altering effect on him, the plaintiff has suffered from depression and anxiety, for which he has required counseling,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges the college was negligent because the practice facility was poorly illuminated, the screen was old and inappropriate for college-level use and coaches created a “false sense of security” by failing to instruct him on how to use it. According to French, a coach and assistant coaches were watching and videotaping French but none told him that he was not remaining completely behind the screen.

The lawsuit also alleges that the college discarded the screen and videotape of the practice session even though it knew the incident likely would be investigated.

A college spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court.

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