In August 1999, Vernon Pitcher attended a football jamboree at Livingston High. Mr. Pitcher was there to watch his old school, McKinley High. As he walked through the bleachers to visit friends, his foot became lodged in a gap between planks in the walkway. Mr. Pitcher’s momentum carried him forward breaking his right foot and severely injuring his left knee. The injuries required two surgeries. Further, as a result of his injuries, Mr. Pitcher could not return to his physically demanding job as an electrical supervisor.
At trial, the School Board, the entity responsible for maintenance of the bleachers, described the bleachers as “aged” and argued that the gap in the walkway was obvious. Therefore, Mr. Pitcher was at least partially responsible for his own injuries. Mr. Pitcher countered that when the bleachers were filled with people the alleged “obvious” condition was not obvious at all. The trial court agreed with Mr. Pitcher and awarded him $920,000. With interest due from the time of filing, the total award to Mr. Pitcher was $1 million.