An appeals court Thursday cut in half the $60 million jury award for a Beacon High School student who was horribly burned in a since-banned chemistry experiment gone awry — still making it the largest payout in New York.
Alonzo Yanes was awarded the massive sum in 2019 after jurors heard about his horrific experience getting third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body at age 16 after a chemistry teacher was demonstrating the “Rainbow Experiment” — which uses highly flammable methanol to light various salts to produce different-colored flames.
The Appellate Division, First Department Thursday acknowledged that the excruciating burns, recovery, and the struggles ahead for Yanes, as he must live out the rest of his life with disfiguring scars, but still found the jury’s award “excessive.”
The decision laid out that the verdict should be reduced to $12 million for past pain and suffering and another $17 million for the future.
Even after it's been cut back, it's still a very large award, and one that has seemingly caused New York City public schools to not perform this demonstration anymore. I hope schools around the country either stop doing the rainbow demonstration, or institute the simplest best practices, including removing bulk containers of methanol from the room during the actual demonstration.
I hope that the award will bring Mr. Yanes a tiny amount of peace. Best wishes to him, and the other victims from the Beacon School incident.