Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2006 13:43:50 -0400
Reply-To: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Respirators on High School Kids
In-Reply-To: <4527CF29.3000005**At_Symbol_Here**>

I consulted for the plaintiff in a recent AZ case where the district 
and middle school teacher were successfully sued.   The teacher (who 
basically had zero chemistry background) decided that he would 
demonstrate sublimation and energy by sealing dry ice and water 
inside plastic soda bottles...  That's what I would call Bomb 
Building 101.

Long story short (I'm going to write it up for J Chem Ed when I get a 
chance), a student lost an eye.

No doubt the plaintiffs could have collected quite a large sum, but 
it settled out of court (terms not disclosed...).  I suspect there 
other student injury cases involving chemical safety issues and tort, 
but the incidents are quitely settled rather than proceeding before 
the suits are formally filed.  [Personal aside: I have a real problem 
with any lawsuit being settled without publicly disclosing the leads to cover-ups of product safety issues]

Obviously, the case I discussed here is an extreme example of someone 
doing something (in my personal and professional opinion, for any 
libel lawyers hanging out here) incredibly stupid and outside normal 
practices (not mention that construction of such devices is a felony 
in AZ).  But it demonstrates that instructor lawsuits can happen, 
particularly when one recognizes that many teachers teach classes 
outside their abilities or formal training.


>There's been a fair amt of concern abt lawyers and liability.  I 
>practice law - part time now, formerly full time in Va Atty Gen'ls 
>In Virginia, as I suspect in most states, sovereign immunity shields 
>public school teachers from common law tort liability.  In the 30 
>years I've had a license to practice law, I've never heard of a 
>successful suit against a public school teacher for a purely 
>teaching related activity.  Racial or other discrimination, sexual 
>misconduct, etc.,  
>claims yes - tort liability - no.
>But the law varies some from state to state.  This would be a good 
>issue for the CHAL [law] section to give a symposium on at an ACS 
>national mtg.
>R. Leonard Vance, JD, Ph.D., PE, CIH
>Associate Professor
>Department of Epidemiology & Community Health
>Virginia Commonwealth University/MCV Campus
>1008 East Clay Street, "Grant House", Room 324
>Box 980212
>Richmond, VA  23298-0212

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