HUNTINGTON - A former college athlete is suing the Marshall University Board of Governors after she claims she was injured while at track practice because the school allowed safety equipment to fall into disrepair.

On April 19, 2011, Molly Grove, who was a member of the Marshall women's track team, was at track practice and was standing beside her coach, Keith McBride, when she was struck in the lower right leg by a hammer when another member of the team made an errant hammer throw, according to a complaint filed April 1 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Grove, a graduate of Musselman High School in Berkeley County, claims prior to the incident, she and other members of the track team had warned the school's athletic department during Student Advisory Committee meetings that the track and field practice facilities were dangerous and in need of repair.

The school was specifically aware of the safety complaints regarding the track and field practice facilities because Grove had also previously written a letter to the editor of the Herald-Dispatch regarding the neglect of the facilities and the women's track team, according to the suit.

Grove claims the school had a duty to provide a safe and properly maintained hammer cage for its women's track team to practice the hammer throw and failed to do so.

The trauma from the direct strike of the almost nine-pound hammer snapped Grove's right leg and knocked her to the ground, where she began screaming and writhing in pain, according to the suit.

Grove claims her coach immediately covered her and tried to keep her from moving while teammates tried to distract her from her obvious compound fracture of the right leg and to keep her from passing out.

After being taken by ambulance to Cabell Huntington Hospital, Grove was diagnosed with an open tibial fracture of her right leg and some of her skin and muscle tissue were so badly crushed by the hammer strike, they could not be saved and doctors later concluded that a metal rod would be necessary to set her badly broken right leg, according to the suit.

Grove claims she was also required to quit her part-time job and her injury affected her ability to attend classes required for her graduate degree at Marshall.

Because of the injury, Grove's track career was unnecessarily and prematurely cut short and the final month of her college education was spent in extreme pain and with limited mobility, according to the suit.

Grove claims her injuries also ruined a graduation gift trip that had been pre-planned and affected her ability to enjoy life, both temporarily and permanently.

As a result of the defendant's negligence, carelessness and recklessness, Grove was severely injured; incurred medical expenses; endured pain and suffering; has sustained a loss of household services; has sustained an impairment of the capacity to enjoy life; and due to the nature and extent of her permanent condition, has suffered humiliation and embarrassment, according to the suit.

Grove is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Tony L. O'Dell of Tiano O'Dell PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-211

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