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MERIL D. BOTTORF v. JOSEPH WALTZ AND KEYSTONE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT (11/22/76)

decided: November 22, 1976.

MERIL D. BOTTORF, JR., A MINOR, BY HIS GUARDIAN, MERIL D. BOTTORF, SR., AND MERIL D. BOTTORF, SR., APPELLEES,
v.
JOSEPH WALTZ AND KEYSTONE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANTS, V. LEVINA REEDER, ADDITIONAL DEFENDANT-APPELLEE. APPEAL OF KEYSTONE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT



Appeal From the Judgment and Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clinton County, Honorable Carson V. Brown, P.J., Civil Action, Law, at No. 263 June Term, 1974, in Trespass. No. 1140 October Term, 1976. No. 1141 October Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

H. Clay McCormick, Williamsport, for appellant at No. 1140.

John C. Youngman, Sr., Williamsport, for appellant at No. 1141.

John P. Campana, Williamsport, for appellees.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, and Van der Voort, JJ. Spaeth, J., absent.

Author: Cercone

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 140]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clinton County, granting plaintiffs-appellees judgment n. o. v. after a jury verdict for defendants.

The action arises from an incident that occurred in a seventh grade art class taught by defendant Joseph Waltz. The minor plaintiff, Meril D. Bottorf, Jr., whose father joined in his complaint as his guardian and in his own right, was severely burned when a makeshift candle mold fell over and spilled melted wax on his back.

The circumstances precipitating the accident, viewed, as they must be, in the light most favorable to the verdict

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 141]

    winners (Rost v. Wickenheiser, 229 Pa. Super. 84, 323 A.2d 154 (1974)), were as follows:

Defendant Waltz decided in November of 1973 to teach candle-making to his art class at Lock Haven Junior High School. The school district supplied hot plates, some molds, wicks, melting pots, and hot pads. The hot plates had no thermostatic control. When the project began, double boilers (with the wax in a top container and water in a bottom one) were used to heat the wax. This limited the temperature of the wax to the temperature at which water boils, 212 degrees. The necessity of getting the experiment completed within a 45-minute class period, however, impelled a change to a faster procedure, and so, the students were permitted to place the melting pots directly on the hot plates, but were instructed to pour the wax into the molds as soon as it was liquid. Waltz instructed the students as to the dangers involved in dealing with hot wax, the precautions to be taken, and the first-aid procedures to be followed in the event of a burn. Three candle-making stations were set up at heavy work tables along the wall to Waltz's left. During each class period one candlemaker and one helper were to work at each station while the rest of the class remained in their regular seats and worked on other projects.

On December 19, 1973, Kerry Johnson was the candle-maker and plaintiff was his helper at the station closest to Waltz's desk. It came to Waltz's attention that some wax at this station had been spilled on the floor while it was being poured from the pot into the mold. The boys were instructed to clean it off before it hardened. Levina Reeder, another student, age 12, came up to Waltz's desk with a paper to be graded. Mr. Waltz then gave her a screwdriver and told her to take it over to plaintiff's station for the boys to use to scrape the wax off the floor. Levina ...


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