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A failed high school chemistry experiment causes nearly $ 60 million worth of damage



The award marks the culmination of a year-long lawsuit by the family of Alonzo Yanes, who at the time of the experiment was a student at New York's Beacon High School.

Yanes is still being treated for his injuries, and autografts are needed to replace tissue, his lawyer said.

"He did not have a day without pain," said lawyer Ben Rubinowitz. "They are more than just scars on his face."

The lawsuit accused the New York Department of Education and the Board of Education of not alerting teachers to the dangers of the experiment known as rainbow demonstrations.

The experiment was intended to reveal flame colors resulting from the combustion of various metals or salts. When Yanes tried it in his second chemistry lesson, it caused an explosion that caused a fire, the lawsuit states.

Several months after the incident, the Chemical Safety Committee of the American Chemical Society issued a safety notice recommending that schools should no longer be taught to use the experiment.

"We find it regrettable that the Ministry of Education and the teacher have not stood up and have admitted that they were negligent," said Rubinowitz. "The end result is that the teacher completely controlled the demonstration and was responsible for the safety of all children in this class."

The explosion left Yanes with severe burns and injuries to his torso that required numerous surgery disfigured and permanent scars, according to the lawsuit.

According to Rubinowitz, the jury awarded about $ 29 million for pain and suffering, including surgery, and another $ 29 million for future rehabilitation.

The rainbow demonstration is no longer used in the classroom, said Nick Paolucci, director of public affairs and spokesman for New York's legal department.

The department is also reviewing its "legal possibilities to reduce the award to an amount consistent with awards recognized by the courts in similar cases," Paolucci said.

In March 201

4, three months after the explosion, the Chemical Safety Committee issued a statement with a video released by the US Committee on Chemical Safety and Hazard Determination in December 2013 to warn against the dangers of the experiment ,

"If the rainbow demonstration is conducted on an open bank using a flammable solvent, it is a high-risk operation," said committee chairman Robert Hill Jr.

The jury's award will help Yanes To continue the treatment, possibly plastic surgery, said his lawyer. But it can not fix the past.

"Needless to say, Alonzo's injuries were terrible, they changed life and are unfortunately disfigured."


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