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Former Student Sues Over 2014 Bleacher Collapse

Jason Scott

A former student at Sun Prairie (Wis.) High School has sued the Sun Prairie Area School District claiming the district was negligent in maintaining football stadium bleachers.

The Sun Prairie Star reports that Shannon Mathews was injured at a 2014 football game, when the bleacher she was standing on collapsed. According to emails sent in the aftermath of the incident, half of a row of bleachers in the student section broke away from cement, and two students were injured. 

In addition to the pain and suffering caused by her injuries, the lawsuit alleges Mathews also endured “economic damages (loss of earning capacity) which are likely to be permanent.” The suit alleges that district officials either knew or should have known about the hazardous condition of the bleachers prior to the collapse.

An open records request revealed the district had hired an engineering firm to study the bleachers in 2013. The firm recommended that repairs – costing an estimated $94,779 -- be complete during the 2014-15 fiscal year. Following the incident, the same firm recommended removing the student section bleachers in time for the next home football game. According to the engineers, the bleachers were not designed to tolerate standing or jumping, which had been happening in the student section.

Attorneys for the district responded to the suit, alleging that Mathews’ injuries were caused by her own negligence.  

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