Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 13:03:17 -0700
Reply-To: Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**UCR.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**UCR.EDU>
Subject: Two Massachusetts Students Get $18.9 Million Personal Injury
Settlement For Burn Accident Caused By Chemistry Experiment
Comments: To: Ralph Stuart
In-Reply-To: A
January 25, 2008 by Altman & Altman 
Two Massachusetts Students Get $18.9 Million Personal Injury Settlement
For Burn Accident Caused By Chemistry Experiment

Calais Weber and Cecilia Chen, both 17, are now college students
studying in Massachusetts. Calais is a Wellesley College undergraduate,
while Chen studies at Harvard. The two students are also burn injury
survivors of a chemistry experiment gone bad when they were high school
students at Western Reserve Academy, a private boarding school in Ohio. 

This month, the two students and their families settled their personal
injury lawsuit with the school for $18.9 million. Weber and her family
received $13.1 million, and Chen and her family received $5.8 million. 

46% of Weber's body sustained burn injuries. She became very depressed
after the accident and considered committing suicide. She has had at
least 16 surgeries to treat her injuries so far and says she was
unrecognizable to herself after the accident.

Chen still has more procedures to undergo even though she already has
had three of them. 

The two students were burned after a chemistry experiment caught on
fire. They were watching their teacher show the class how chemical
salts, when burned, exhibit different colors. Methanol was being used. A
flash fire resulted. 

Prior to taking the class, all of the students had signed contracts
stipulating the use of safety equipment. Even though protective gear was
available in the classroom, they weren't used.

The families say that the teacher acted negligently because she did not
implement safety measures when conducting the experiment. The family's
Ohio personal injury lawyer says that the teacher should have conducted
the experiment at least 10 feet away from the students, as well as used
a safety shield and vent system. 

The girls plan to use part of their settlement to hire a specialist to
improve school safety conditions.

Also injured in the fire were a teacher and her son, 11, who were
visiting the classroom at the time of the accident.

Burn Injuries

Burn injuries caused by another party's negligence can be grounds for a
burn accident claim or lawsuit. If you were injured in a burn accident
in the Greater Boston area or anywhere in Massachusetts, you should
contact a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer right away.

Recovering from a burn injury can be very costly. Burn injuries are
extremely dangerous and can lead to infection, complications,
excruciating pain, and scarring. Emotional trauma frequently accompanies
a burn injury and medical costs can be very costly-especially if
multiple and ongoing surgeries are involved.

Students in fire at Western Reserve Academy settle lawsuit, The Plain
Dealer, January 18, 2008

Russell Vernon, Ph.D. 
Laboratory / Research Safety Specialist, Integrated Waste Manager
Environmental Health & Safety 
University of California, Riverside 
900 University Ave. 
Riverside, CA 92521


Direct: (951) 827-5119
Admin: (951) 827-5528
Fax: (951) 827-5122

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.