College Sports

Dartmouth student lawsuit settled over baseball injury

Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College. Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A lawsuit filed by a Dartmouth College student against the school who was seriously injured during baseball practice has been settled, the college said Monday.

Last year, Colton French said in federal court documents that 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, the lawsuit said.


French said he lost vision in that eye, missed the rest of that school year because of his injuries and has needed surgeries and other medical treatment costing more than $430,000. He said he could 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 stated.

Details on the settlement were not made public.

“The matter is resolved. We have no additional comment,” Diana Lawrence, spokeswoman for the college, said in an email Monday. A message was left with French’s lawyer.

In court documents, lawyers for the college wrote that being hit by a ball during baseball practice “is an inherent risk of the sport of which the plaintiff was aware. The defendant did not increase this risk.”

The lawsuit, which sought unspecified damages, alleged that 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 alleged that the college discarded the screen and videotape of the practice session even though it knew the incident likely would be investigated.


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