Monday, July 1, 2019

BREAKING: Alonzo Yanes awarded $59 million by jury

A Manhattan jury on Monday awarded nearly $60 million in damages to a former Beacon High School student who was badly burned in a botched chemistry experiment five years ago. 
After a nearly three-week trial, the six-person jury panel — made up of three men and three women — agreed with Alonzo Yanes that the city and teacher Anna Poole’s negligence led to the Jan. 2, 2014, fire that scorched the then-16-year-old 10th-grader. 
Poole — who testified as a defense witness and attended the entire trial — had been conducting the “Rainbow Experiment” using highly volatile methanol to ignite four different salts to show the various flame-colors each displayed.
From the New York Daily News (by Stephen Rex Brown):
A Manhattan jury awarded $59 million Monday to a student disfigured by a botched chemistry demonstration that set him on fire in the classroom at a prestigious Manhattan high school... 
...Half of the award was for past pain and suffering, the other half for the mental and physical pain that Yanes feared will define the rest of his life.
Well, now we have a number for this, although I imagine that the lawyers of the New York City Department of Education will be working towards appeals and reducing the jury award.

8 comments:

  1. No training for the teacher, no fume hood, not even a plexiglass screen between the teacher bench and the students. Apparently kids sat as close as 2 feet! How is that even possible? How recklessly stupid can you be? Where are the rolling heads? Where are the prison sentences?

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    1. These days, its pretty easy to get a Chem BS without ever using a fume hood. I think the teacher was enthusiastic about chem, but did not have a lot of practical experience. In college, what maybe happened is that in lab, all the hazardous work for a lab experiment was done by the grad students, so the school would not get sued if an accident with an undergrad occurred.

      Recently, I asked for a set up for a potassium and water demo, and the tech brought out a glass beaker for the demo. I did switch to plastic :)

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  2. "We don't know how this happened." I mean, if you don't bother to provide any training and no one bothers to look beforehand to see if there have been lots of previous instances of the same thing happening in the same way, then I guess you don't know. On the other hand, if you're either that stupid or that willfully ignorant, perhaps you should be doing something else, like filling very large holes with sand from a pail and shovel, where your stupidity can't hurt anyone else or allow others to do so.

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  3. Perhaps the $60m lawsuit will finally signal to high schools around the world that flash fires in classrooms full of kids should be avoided at all costs, if that wasn't already obvious.

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  4. A reward is well deserved but this is way too high. The statistical value of a human life (what we regular people value our own life at on the margins) is only about $10m. The correct reward would be more on the order of $2m, basing it on a 20% reduction in his quality of life.

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    1. I would agree with you...IF this was the first time this has happened. It is time a message was set to employers that you have to actually expect safety, not just assume it will happen because someone with a degree knows better.

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    2. It may or more not be rational to meet out additional punishment, but that should not take the form of additional reward for the victim.

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    3. As this was a civil suit, (i.e. not a criminal case), "punishment" is usually always in the form of dollars as opposed to jail, community service, etc.

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