This week, in an unusual decision, New York State Supreme Court Justice Alexander Tisch upheld a jury verdict for $60 million. Our partners New York personal injury attorneys Ben Rubinowitz and Richard Steigman tried the case before Justice Tisch last July. See Prior Blog. This is one of the largest awards for pain and suffering ever affirmed by a trial court in New York State.
The case was one that sparked national attention. A 10th grade student, Alonzo Yanes, was severely burned in his 10th grade chemistry class due to the negligence of his teacher Anna Poole and the New York City Board of Education. The teacher, who had been performing the “rainbow experiment,” failed to take necessary safety precautions to protect the students in her class. In the experiment the teacher was using methanol, a highly flammable substance, and failed to ensure that the students were kept at a safe distance from the demonstration table, failed to provide goggles to the students, failed to ensure there was a fire blanket was in the classroom and conducted the experiment in a classroom which did not have proper ventilation or showers.
Alonzo was burned alive. As the teacher poured the methanol from a gallon jug into a beaker a large fireball erupted and coated this young student with millions of droplets of burning methanol. Alonzo was screaming in agony — but because there was no protective equipment in the classroom and no shower or fire blanket he kept burning while a teacher from another classroom finally entered the classroom with a fire blanket to smother the flames.