man, high school, stolen, thief, theft, gym, gymnasium, skylight, roof, spotlights, quadriplegic, mute, personal injury, lawyer, sue, win, settlement, practical joke

This Week’s Wacky Wednesday: Man Crashes Through Skylight in Theft Attempt and His Lawyers Sue

Young people often do things that are reckless and dangerous, and many people would say downright stupid, as you can see from the case of Rick Bodine. In 1982, he and his friends decided that it might be a bit of fun if they were to head back to their old high school to steal some spotlights that were placed on the roof. It’s not known exactly what they were planning to do with the spotlights, whether they were going to steal and sell them or if it was a prank. However, as bad of an idea as it was, they decided to move forward with their plan.

Theft Gone Wrong

When they had their plan in place, they waited until the middle of the night to sneak onto the school grounds. It was very dark, and they likely reasoned that there was little chance that they would end up getting caught. After all, security for a high school in 1982 tended not to be very tight at all.

Bodine climbed up onto the roof of the gym and saw the spotlights that he and his friends wanted. He went over to one of them and was able to get it free, apparently without too much trouble. He took the light, went back to the other side of the roof, and passed it off to high friends who were down below.

Not satisfied with just a single light, he decided that he would go back for another. However, as greed got the better of him, so did gravity. What Bodine and the others did not know was that there were skylights that had been painted over. It was dark, and they appeared to be the same color as the roof. When he walked onto one of the skylights, the glass was unable to hold his weight. He went crashing through the skylight, and down onto the hard gymnasium floor, where he landed on his head.

If he had not been so severely injured, this might have been a funny cautionary tale about the dangers associated with stealing. However, it caused him serious injuries. He was left a mute quadriplegic. For his attempted theft, he sentenced himself with a lifetime of injuries.

The Lawsuit

Even though he was engaging in a crime at the time, his attorneys filed a personal injury lawsuit on his behalf. They said that the school had created a hazard when they decided to paint over the skylights and that they blended into the roof to the point where they couldn’t be seen. This, they said, was too dangerous.

While you might imagine that the school would want to fight this case because they were being robbed at the time, they didn’t. Perhaps they thought the legal battle would be too long and expensive. Instead, their insurance company decided to settle. They settled with $260,000, as well as an additional $1,500 each month for as long as Bodine lives.