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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

Related Web Resources:

Western Reserve Academy

Burn Injury Information, Phoenix Society for Burn Injuries