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$14.5m for boy’s brain injury from metal bat

PATERSON, N.J. — A New Jersey teenager left brain-damaged after being struck by a line drive off a metal bat while playing in a baseball game will receive $14.5 million to settle his lawsuit against the bat manufacturer, Little League Baseball, and a sporting goods chain.

The settlement of Steven Domalewski’s lawsuit was announced in state Superior Court Wednesday in Passaic County. The boy, now 18, lives in Wayne, N.J. His family had claimed the metal bat was unsafe because baseballs could carom off it at much faster speeds than wooden bats.

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‘‘The Domalewskis are still saddened by the tragic events of June 2006, but this settlement provides them with some relief and comfort that Steven will get the care he needs for the rest of his life,’’ said the family’s attorney, Ernest Fronzuto. ‘‘He still can’t perform any functions of daily life on his own.’’

Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive of Little League Baseball Inc., said the settlement guarantees ‘‘Steven Domalewski will receive the lifetime care he will require as a result of this tragic accident, a type of accident extremely rare in youth baseball.’’

Fronzuto said the settlement precluded him from discussing its details or if any of the defendants admitted liability.

Domalewski was pitching when the batter rocketed a line drive off the metal bat he was swinging.

The ball slammed into Steven’s chest, just above his heart, knocking him backward. He clutched his chest, then made a motion to reach for the ball on the ground and throw to first base to get the runner out.

But he never made it that far. The ball had struck his chest at the precise millisecond between heartbeats, sending him into cardiac arrest, according to his doctors. He crumpled to the ground and stopped breathing.

Paramedics, who were a quarter-mile away doing a CPR demonstration, got to Steven within minutes, placed an oxygen mask over his face, and rushed him to a hospital. But the damage had been done; his brain had been without oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes.

‘‘Pretty much, he died,’’ Joseph Domalewski, his father, said in a 2008 interview. ‘‘It was just so fast. The thud, you could hear. When it hit him, that seemed to echo.’’

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