On November 2, 1985 OSU Sophomore Kristi Elliott accidently fell into Mirror Lake striking her head on a limestone planter that was created by Ohio State University in the 1930’s for water lillies. Kristi, a member of the OSU swim team, became an instant quadriplegic. Trial lawyer John Alton represented Kristi for more than 7 years in litigation against Ohio State University. After 2 trials and a settlement conference mandated by Judge Dean Strausbaugh, the case settled in December 1993 for $1.375 million.
There were significant obstacles to pursuit of this claim. Kristi had been drinking at the OSU-Iowa football game. She was arguably negligent in entering Mirror Lake even though unintentionally. Although OSU created the planters that were a danger to students entering the lake for 5 decades, there were no reported injuries prior to Kristi’s tragic accident other than one in the 1950’s that John Alton located in the OSU newspaper. OSU had notice of the danger associated with these planters that were in and of themselves inherently dangerous.
Nearly 22 years after the Kristi Elliott settlement OSU permits students to enter the lake and sanctions hundreds of students jumping in the lake before the OSU-Michigan game. All but one of the 8 planters are still beneath the surface of the dark water of Mirror Lake.