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Jurors find builders, school at fault for teacher's injury

A Pierce County jury has awarded over $350,000 to a River Falls High School teacher who tripped over a jump rope rack after a motion sensor shut off hallway lights.

In a verdict signed April 29, jurors determined $363,963 will fairly compensate physical education teacher Ryan D. Bishop and his wife for injuries he suffered in the high school Oct. 6, 2004.

The jury found Westra Construction, Waupun, the general contractor for the school, was 57% negligent; B&B Electric, Eau Claire, was 28% negligent; and the high school was 15% negligent.

Jurors determined Bishop was also negligent but said his negligence wasn't a cause of the accident.

The award was divided this way: $33,000 for past injuries; $175,000 for future injuries; $6,000 for past loss of earning capacity; $45,000 for future loss of earning capacity; $31,263 for past medical expenses; $67,500 for future medical care; and $6,200 to Bishop's wife Renee for loss of companionship.

In a pre-trial deposition, Bishop said he had been in a storage area west of the gym repairing hockey sticks when the lights went off.

He said he made his way to the hall wall, feeling along it with his right hand, then hit something with his foot and stepped on the edge of a jump rope rack, twisted his foot and fell to the ground.

Bishop described the incident as "... walking into a curb, not knowing that it was there, hitting and stumbling from there."

For more, see the May 6 print edition of the River Falls Journal.