Science class demonstration ends in hospital trip for students

On behalf of Kammholz Law PLLC posted in Premises Liability on Wednesday, January 15, 2014.

People in New York may have heard about a frightening accident that occurred at a Manhattan school earlier this month. What was supposed to be an exciting and colorful demonstration by a chemistry teacher turned ugly when the chemical reaction created by the teacher turned into a blazing fireball that spread across the classroom, catching one unlucky student in its wake. The 16-year-old victim, a tenth grade student, immediately began screaming and dropped to the floor, rolling around to extinguish the flames. Finally, after what seemed like a horrific eternity, students were able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher and blanket. But sadly, the irreversible damage to the student had already been done. Students reported that he was on fire for at least a minute before the flames were extinguished and that his skin was peeling. His face was also red. Following the incident, students claimed that he was no longer moving or speaking. The boy was rushed to Cornell Medical Center, where he remained overnight with serious burns to most of his body. Now, investigators are wondering what went wrong, and how this day of learning turned into a nightmare for these tenth graders. Investigators must determine whether it was the teacher’s negligence that caused the accident, or whether it was a malfunction created by a dangerous property condition in the chemistry lab. Schools have a duty to protect their students, especially when dangerous chemicals are being used in science labs. If there were hazardous conditions in the lab that either went unchecked or were ignored, the victim may have a strong premises liability case against the school. The school administration has a duty to routinely inspect its dangerous equipment, and if its failure to do so contributed to this accident, they may be required to compensate the victim for his serious and painful injuries. Source: New York Post, “Two high school kids burned in lab accident,” Lorena Mongelli, Natasha Velez and Laura Italiano, Jan. 2, 2014


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