A San Diego Superior Court jury ordered that Los Angeles-based RWM Fiberoptics Inc. pay an Oceanside resident $455,000 in damages following an injury incurred during a vocational training class.

The jury ruled in favor of Thomas Penfield’s client, a vocational class student, in the case against RWM, a vocational training school which has since closed its doors.

After deliberating for two and one-half days, the jury awarded  the plaintiff $400,000 in economic losses plus $250,000 in non-economic damages – reduced by thirty percent for

comparative fault, for a net of $455,000.

Penfield, who worked on the case with attorney Monica Marquez, a sole practitioner, noted that his client’s coursework in broadband television incorporated pole climbing with metal spikes.   “During training, my client fell about ten feet during a ‘certification’ climb, significantly injuring several vertebral discs,” he said.  It was determined that fusion surgery was likely to be needed within the next five years.

Penfield argued that that the school and instructor fell below the standard of care, and were negligent in the design of the training program – with lack of fall protection, inadequate training and lack of investigation into proper safety devices. Additionally, no liability waivers were signed, or was fall protection provided.

Verdict: $455,000

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