Though aware of the problem, faculty never requested that the u-bolt be tightened or welded.
  • Though aware of the problem, faculty never requested that the u-bolt be tightened or welded.
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A Duke University tennis player whose left index finger was mangled and partially severed after getting caught in a broken gate latch at San Diego State University's Aztec Tennis Center has agreed to settle his lawsuit against the school for $95,000.

Bryan "Cole" Hammond played varsity tennis for Duke University when, on March 13, 2014, while playing a doubles match, Hammond ran for a ball toward a chain-link fence located at the corner of the court. Hammond reached his left hand out to brace himself but the welding on the metal latch system had deteriorated. His left index finger lodged inside the collar and it spun, severing a portion of his finger.

Hammond's finger soon after the accident

Hammond's finger soon after the accident

In May 2015 Hammond filed a lawsuit against San Diego State University and the California State University system. During the course of the litigation, attorneys for the college had argued the school was not liable for Hammond's injury, claiming, among other arguments, that Hammond was negligent in trying to chase down a ball that could not have been returned.

But according to court documents obtained by the Reader, college staff and tennis coaches were aware that the welding on many of the gates had worn. However, instead of reporting the problems to maintenance workers, the coaches and others grew accustomed to straightening the metal collar with their hands.

Hammond's healed finger

Hammond's healed finger

During a deposition, several coaches including San Diego State University women's tennis coach, Peter Mattera, testified that he had seen similar defects five to ten times since university's facility opened in 2005.

"Rather than reporting the loose latch collar problem to the Facilities Department, [coaches and others] would simply straighten out the latch, and never requested that the u-bolt be tightened or otherwise addressed by way of a simple tack weld."

Communications personnel for San Diego State University declined to comment as to whether the collars on the metal gates have since been fixed.

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