Student appeal turned down

Joe Lord

The Warren Circuit Court turned down an appeal from a former Western student who sought more damages after being awarded $100,000 in August. An appeal by the university to overturn the award was also shot down.

Chris Hisle filed suit against Western in March 1999 when he suffered injuries stemming from a standing jump during a class in Diddle Arena.

Both sides said this is the end of the suit, as neither intend to further appeal.

“We’re not going to take any further steps,” said Pam Bratcher, an attorney representing Hisle.

The appeal ruling was signed by Warren Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lewis on April 9.

General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said the standing jump is a standard physical education activity. Hisle, Wilkins said, had weak shins that contributed to his injury.

But Lewis thought otherwise.

“The court finds that the board did not act in excess of its statutory powers,” the ruling said.

The suit claimed the class instructor, Bethany Garrity, failed to conduct the exercise properly. An officer from the Kentucky Board of Claims ruled that the accident left Hisle with permanent damage to his right foot and nerve damage in both of his legs.

Hisle was awarded $100,000, the largest award possible by statute, for compensation of those injuries, Bratcher said.

Bratcher said the maximum amount the Board of Claims could award to a plaintiff was increased to $200,000 in July 2001 by the state legislature. Hisle’s attorneys argued in the appeal that they should be allowed to reap that award.

Hisle’s injury caused him to withdraw from school and have limited his work opportunities, Bratcher told the Herald last semester.

“He hasn’t been able to hold a job because he has pain in his lower legs,” she said. “Most labor jobs are not open to him now. He doesn’t have the strength in his legs.”

She said Hisle now lives in New York and works with disabled people. Hisle could not be reached for comment.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]