At Granbury Middle School, a 12-year-old student has suffered third-degree burns on his hands as a result of a reckless science experiment. The teacher of the science class, who has not yet been publicly identified as the investigation into the incident continues, reportedly coated the student’s hands in hand sanitizer and then intentionally lit them on fire. The experiment was supposed to leave the boy unharmed by demonstrating how rapidly the alcohol in the hand sanitizer burns away. It did not work as expected.
The boy was hospitalized with severe burns on both of his hands. His condition is not known at this time. The teacher resigned shortly after the incident. It is not clear if anyone will face criminal charges or what sort of civil action will follow.
(You can learn more about this ongoing story by clicking here to read a full article from NBC News.)
Not Exactly an Isolated Incident
As shocking as this news story is about a student suffering severe burns during a questionable science experiment might be, it is not completely unique. The attorneys of Greene Broillet & Wheeler recently successfully handled an eerily similar claim in California.
Greene Broillet & Wheeler Partner Scott Carr helped to secure a $3.5 million settlement in a burn injury lawsuit on behalf of a 15-year-old student who sued the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District and a teacher after she suffered injuries on a school field trip. The incident happened on May 20th, 2017, during a three-day trip for a Solar Boat Competition held at Lake Skinner in Riverside County.
While the participating students sat around a bonfire the night before the event, a chemistry teacher put hand sanitizer on his own hands and the hands of a high school boy sitting next to the victim. The teacher lit the boy’s hands-on fire and then ignited his own hands. This caused the flames to jump from the boy’s hands onto the 15-year-old victim’s thighs as she sat in disbelief.
According to the lawsuit, the teen spent weeks in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), during which time the teacher attempted to cover up what happened, by convincing the high school boy sitting next to the victim to take responsibility for what happened. It was only after a video of the incident came to light, and only after witnesses from other school districts came forward to report what they had seen, that the truth of the teacher’s involvement was revealed.
The lesson that high school science teachers apparently need to learn is clear: stop lighting kids’ hands on fire in the name of a chemistry experiment. But the lesson of this previous claim is that school districts can be held financially liable for the harm done by their staff members. As such, the injured student in Texas should already be talking to attorneys about how to seek appropriate compensation.