OLYMPIA – The state Supreme Court, reversing an appeals court decision, ruled that the Moses Lake School District was not responsible for a student’s injuries in a woodshop class at the high school.
Heidi Jo Hendrickson filed a lawsuit against the school district in 2010 to recover for injuries she suffered while operating a radial table saw in a woodshop class. A jury in Grant County Superior Court found that the Moses Lake School District was negligent but that was not the “proximate cause of Hendrickson’s injuries.
Hendrickson won an appeal and the case was remanded for a new trial, arguing the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the school district “owed a duty of ordinary care to Hendrickson instead of a heightened duty of care,” according to court records.
Hendrickson was a freshman at the high school when her hand came in contact with the table saw, severely cutting her thumb, resulting in partial amputation. Hendrickson sued, alleging the district was liable for negligence by shop teacher Kevin Chestnut, who was supervising other students in an area outside the room and could not see the table saw area.
In Thursday’s decision, the Supreme Court justices ruled school districts “are held to a standard of ordinary care to protect their students from foreseeable harm,” according to court records.”
The justices stated they have long held “school districts have the duty to exercise such care as an ordinarily responsible and prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.”
The Supreme Court ruling reinstates the jury’s verdict.