It took three hours for jury members to award a $425,000 judgment in favor of Kodi Braden Pipes' parents, who collapsed while shooting free throws during an eighth-grade basketball practice at Clay City Jr.-Sr. High School Nov. 19, 2003.
Although CPR was administered immediately, Pipes was pronounced dead after being transported to the emergency room of St. Vincent Clay Hospital.
Autopsy reports determined Pipes died of post-myocarditis with myocardopathy.
Pipes had blacked out two days prior to the incident. While under doctor's care, Pipes' mother informed the coach he could "walk through plays, but he was not to participate in "running or strenuous activity."
Although Pipes attended school two days without incident and was not officially cleared by a doctor, Pipes participated in a running drill at the practice.
Pipes' parents -- mother Ronna Timberman and father John Pipes II -- filed the wrongful death case against the CCSC in August 2006.
A core issue at the center of the trial -- and part of the appeal process filed by the school corporation -- was whether school officials made sure Pipes had medical clearance before returning to practice and who was responsible for the boy's death.
Although "contributory negligence" has been considered an absolute defense available to governmental entities, including public schools, the jury returned a verdict and damage award in favor of Pipes' parents.
Citing various issues wrong with the trial, attorneys for the CCSC filed an appeal in 2008.
In contention, the lawyers for the CCSC believed the trial court committed reversible errors and abused its discretion, including:
* When -- at the request of Pipes' parents' -- instructions were provided to the jury that Indiana law presumes children 7-14 are "incapable of being negligent in their own deaths,"
* Possible negligence on the part of Pipes' parents were not considered,
* It instructed the jury Pipes' parents had not released Clay City School from its negligence,
* When it instructed the jury Clay City School was required to anticipate and guard against conduct of children in which they may harm themselves or others,
* Instructed the jury it "may" rather than "must" find a verdict for the defendant if it found Pipes contributed to the negligence in his death,
* Instructed the jury on proximate cause, and
* How the cumulative effect of the trial court's erroneous instructions entitled CCSC to a new trial.
On Monday, the 13-page, 5-0 opinion, written by Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. on behalf of the Indiana Supreme Court, was released.
In it, Sullivan wrote the "case requires (the justices) to determine whether Indiana law recognizes a rebuttable presumption that children between the ages of 7 and 14 are incapable of contributory negligence."
Since the jury instruction reflected a legal presumption and correct statement of law running in favor of Pipes, the CCSC had to overcome it by providing proof he was accountable for his actions.
Of the 16 jury instructions submitted by the CCSC, according to Sullivan's document, only Kodi Pipes' decision-making level was considered by the jury.
The court concluded that since the CCSC never presented evidence or included instructions to the jury about considerations concerning any negligence of Pipes' parents in its defense, the issue was waived.
While the court recognized some language in the jury instructions might have been more precise if written differently, it was not enough of an error to reverse the verdict of the jury.
When contacted by The Brazil Times, CCSC Superintendent Dan Schroeder, who was not with the corporation at the time of the 2003 incident, felt he was unable to comment on the judgment and referred all questions to the corporation's attorney, William H. Kelley.
A staff member at Kelley's Bloomington office said he was currently out of town and unable to make a comment about the case until his return.