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Wrongful death verdict overturned

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The verdict in the case filed against Clay Community School Corporation involving the alleged wrongful death of a Clay City student was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals (ICA) Tuesday.

Because the trial court committed what was determined a reversible error in the jury instructions, a new trial was ordered in the matter of the wrongful death case of Kodi Braden Pipes.

On Nov. 19, 2003, Pipes collapsed while shooting free throws at an eighth-grade basketball practice at Clay City Jr.-Sr. High School. Although CPR was administered immediately, Pipes was pronounced dead after being transported to St. Vincent Clay Hospital.

Autopsy results determined Pipes died of post-myocarditis with myocardopathy, which is a weakening of the structure of the heart. At the time, Forensic Pathologist Dr. Roland Kohr reported it would be impossible to determine why the 13-year-old boy died.

Pipes' parents, Ronna Timberman and his father, John Pipes II, filed the wrongful death case against the Clay Community School Corporation in August 2006.

During Dec. 10-13, 2007, Special Judge Matthew L. Headley, Putnam County, presided over the jury trial in Clay Superior Court. It took three hours for the jury members to award a $425,000 judgment in favor of Pipes' parents.

After the ruling, the school corporation filed a motion to correct errors in the case, which was denied.

According to paperwork filed by the ICA Dec. 2, the school corporation then appealed the case to the ICA, contending the trial court abused its discretion in the final jury instructions.

Although several instructions were brought into question, one stood out as "the proverbial can of worms."

In jury instruction No. 20, the trial court informed jurors a child between 7- to 14-years-old is presumed by Indiana law to be incapable of contributory negligence for their actions.

The ICA examined Indiana case law to conclude that state law doesn't conclusively contain a presumption either in favor or against whether 7- to 14-year-olds can be found liable for negligent acts.

The appeal also included the omission of the parents from the jury's consideration of their contributory negligence in Pipes' death.

According to the ICA judges, the trial court misstated Indiana law in this matter.

As a result, the appellate court reversed the trial court verdict and remanded the case for a new trial because it was unable to determine whether the 2007 verdict would have been the same despite the erroneous instruction.

When contacted by The Brazil Times, Judge Mathew L. Headley confirmed an attorney's conference would be scheduled to arrange a new trial date for the matter.


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"Autopsy results determined Pipes died of post-myocarditis with myocardopathy, which is a weakening of the structure of the heart."

How is this the school's responsibility? Sounds like a health issue that only God would have the foresight to know about.

The entire family has my sincerest and deepest sympathy in the loss of their child but let's keep this in perspective: In the realm of "who is responsible for the presence of this health issue", the list starts with our Creator and is followed by,in a very close second, by the child's physical creators, the parents.

The mother has been instumental in getting AEDs installed in schools, a very positive outcome from a tragic situation. Why continue to drag Kodi's memory through pointless litigation?

-- Posted by goatrodeo on Fri, Dec 5, 2008, at 8:28 AM

Goatrodeo,

I feel bad for these people. They lost a child. No parent should ever have to go through that.

But, because there is money involved. The general populace of sheeple believe that "All corporations are evil so when anything bad happens we should punish them as much as possible." The juries (that are made up of those same sheeple) award amounts because they feel sorry for the people's loss. Its all emotional. Isn't it wonderful? We can offload anything personal responsibility we have on the evil school corporation and be compensated for our sorrow by tax money! Yeah! Having one of your kids die while at school is a horrible lost but to your finances it can be like hitting the lottery, only better: NO TAXES!!!

In people's grief, they often toss their morality in the trash, especially where large sums of money are involved. I'm not sure how the school could have been even remotely responsible for this event. I would call a judgment in favor of the Pipes a heinous miscarriage of justice perpetrated by a jury of bleeding heart ignoramuses. But, hey! I still have to go to work every day. When playing "Whos The Dumber" I always lose especially when it involves "salad bar morality" and situational ethics.

Disgusting.

-- Posted by TheRider on Sat, Dec 6, 2008, at 7:12 PM

I agree with both of you. The loss of a child is horrid.

I never understood how the schools were to blame for his death. And I also never understood how they were awarded this money.

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 10:14 AM

Let me begin by saying that the comments made by " the rider" are crude and crass. As an immediate family member who suffered the loss of a dear child 5 years ago, your small town mindedness offends me. Not for one second did Kodi's parents think " Oh my, we're gonna sue for all this money, our son has died!" Are you kidding me? They lost their child for Gods' sake. Do you have no morals or empathy? This was not and is not about money but about accountability. Kodi was the victim of a small town community lacking the knowledge of how to handle an emergency. The AED was under lock and key. If it had been available, would he still be here? Most doctors' agree his chances of survival would have been much greater had it been available. I sat in the courtroom and listened to the sickening comments and jeers made as Kodi's mother testified. Not anything to be proud of this is for sure. But again, I attribute that to narrow minded people with little education. Let he who hath no sin cast the first stone. God help all of you who have nothing more to do than pick on my family.

-- Posted by missnurse1987 on Mon, Dec 8, 2008, at 4:59 PM

Please. Let the boy rest. That is what any logical human would want. He was a very good kid. Don't take away from that by acting like this.

-- Posted by dude1 on Wed, Dec 10, 2008, at 2:29 PM

missnurse1987, apparently you do not know what the condition of his heart was. Myocardopathy is a weakening of the structure of the heart. His heart came apart. An AED is not going to fix that. All an AED will do is put the heart back into normal sinus rythm if and only if he was in v-tach or v-fib. His rythm would have shown up as asystole, which by you being a nurse would know that it takes epinepherine to change that, and the AED would have said " NO SHOCK ADVISED". AEDs are a very good thing, don't get me wrong for saying that. But they will only work if the situation is right. I think is is time that you brush up on your BLS skills.

-- Posted by neverforget on Mon, Dec 22, 2008, at 10:01 AM

never forget: I have a copy of the autopsy report in my possession as I'm sure you do not. Several physician's with a positive reputation reviewed said document and concur had an AED been available his chances of survival would have been greater. You don't need to lecture me please. Also of note, had the coaches not waited 20 minuted to call 911, Kodi would have had a chance. Anything else you'd like to comment on? Ignorance is bliss. Get over it, brush up on your skills and tact please.

-- Posted by missnurse1987 on Fri, Feb 13, 2009, at 11:13 AM

In the first place neverforget,but your information on the autopsy report is not at all accurate. What Kodi died form had nothing to do with his heart at all . I do not understand why people in this community are so against my family over this lawsuit, we have really found out that there are not very many true friends in this community, when all the sympathy as went to the school, and persons representing them. God does know what happened that night as well as my family , and the coaches who need to tell the truth ., they need to stand and be the christian they claim to be. It has nothing to do with money at all and to compare to a lottery is so makes so mad that until you have been in this spot then maybe u all should get the facts straight, myfamily can not say too much about the lawsuit,because it is still in lidigation, and brazil times is wrong in this article also. The Indiana Supreme Court heard the arguments on the 14th of this month the court of appeals has been thrown out. Nothing in the clay county school corporation has changed since Kodi's death,the AED was locked in the nurses office as well as the office in the gym. Where is the training of people that watch your kid in school everyday for nine months of the year, make u wonder how they would handle an emergency situation doesn't it.

Well there were alot of people who want this to go away, but it never will and to say let Kodi rest he is with the lord and thank god he does not know how people have treated his mother and my family here.

Well I have probably said too much ,but my family has had to endure so much hatred and terrible talk about them. They do not even feel welcome in this community any more .

-- Posted by MyDean35 on Wed, May 27, 2009, at 5:38 PM


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