Monday, June 17, 2019

Civil trial of NYC teacher whose rainbow demonstration burned student underway

Via the New York Post's Priscilla DeGregory and Laura Italiano, this update from the lawsuit brought by Alonzo Yanes: 
All she remembers is her victim’s screams. 
In a deposition read aloud at the civil trial against Beacon High School chemistry teacher Anna Poole, she describes the moment a lab demo caused a fireball that engulfed 10th-grader Alonzo Yanes, who is now seeking $27 million in damages. 
“I remember looking up and seeing him rolling on the floor and I remember him screaming,” she said in a 2017 deposition, for which she was under questioning by Yanes’ lawyers. 
The reading of Poole’s deposition in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday is the first public airing of her account of the accident that left Yanes permanently disfigured.
But while the now-21-year-old will never forget that 2013 afternoon in Room 317 of the prestigious Upper West Side school, Poole herself said she has little memory of it. 
Yanes has lost his sense of touch, is permanently disfigured in his face, torso and hands, and has been too afraid of his looks to make friends or start an intimate relationship, his lawyer said during opening statements on Monday. 
Yanes is seeking damages from Poole and the city.
$27 million dollar lawsuit - that's pretty steep!  


  1. "that's pretty steep!"
    I disagree. This is a horrific accident that will affect him forever. Safety is very important, and taking risks for the sake of demonstration is perhaps not the best idea assuming the high-school teacher was not adequately protecting the students (good assumption here right?). Letting other people take risks with no liabilities except to themselves, and then sharing it with others = the role of Youtube.

  2. "...that's pretty steep"

    Apparently not. We have had enough warnings throughout the secondary education community for years that flammable liquids and ignitions sources don't play well together. The only way that we're going to get the attention of the secondary education community is through a huge tort claim.

  3. I'm kind of curious whether the teacher will be held personally liable, or whether the district's insurance will cover it. Personally I am paranoid about methanol. We do use it as a reagant or solvent on occasion, but this is an elaborate ritual involving putting on PPE, setting up a blast shield around the reaction setup, clearing a radius around the reaction free of flammables, ensuring all lighters & matches are put away, dispensing an amount from the stock bottle, returning it to locked storage. I don't understand how anyone can think torching the stuff in a classroom is a good idea, and I've spent years trying to figure out how chemistry teachers (particularly those with an ed degree as opposed to a chem degree) learn about the Rainbow and think it's a good idea to try it. Maybe some old publication by Flinn? I doubt they read Shakhashiri.

    We do our flame tests in Bunsen burners with wooden splints soaked overnight in distilled water, or sometimes using Nichrome wire scavenged from thrift-shop toasters. No idea why anybody would do it another way.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20