Aurora Dist. 129 sued after boy, 3, burned by cup of tea

Posted6/12/2012 4:57 PM

An Aurora couple has sued West Aurora District 129 and a prekindergarten teacher at Hope D. Wall Elementary School, arguing she was negligent in leaving a cup of scalding hot tea on a counter in a room full of hyperactive, special-needs students in November 2011.

One student, who was 3 at the time, knocked over the cup and got third-degree burns on his face, neck and torso, according to the suit filed in Kane County.

The suit, filed by parents Horacio Carmona and Cristina Vivaldo, seeks a jury trial and more than $50,000 damages.

The lawsuit argues that a teacher on Nov. 10, 2011, set a cup of hot tea on a counter within reach of a room full of hyperactive, special-needs prekindergarten students.

The student, who the lawsuit describes as being mentally challenged, presumed autistic, hyperactive and without the ability to speak, knocked over the cup, the suit states.

The teacher "ignored an obvious danger by placing the dangerously hot tea with no lid in an unguarded location accessible to hyperactive preschool age children with special needs who defendant knew or should have known could reach the cup and become severely burned if the tea spilled or splashed on them," read part of the suit filed by attorney Patrick Flaherty,

Contacted by phone, Flaherty declined further comment.

The suit also accuses the district of failing to take the boy, now 4, to the new Mercy Provena Hospital emergency room until 11:23 a.m. that day when the injury occurred at about 10:30 a.m.

An inquiry with Superintendent James Rydland was referred to Mike Chapin, school district spokesman, who declined to comment when asked for a response to the suit, what the district's policy is regarding hot liquids in the classroom and what, if any, changes were prompted by the incident.

"It is the policy of the school district not to comment on issues involving litigation," Chapin said in an email.

The school district's attorney, Peter Wilson, said he had not seen the lawsuit yet and even if he did, he would not comment on ongoing litigation.

A message left at the school and home of the teacher was not returned, nor was an email sent to her school account.

The parties are due in court on Aug. 30 before Judge Judith Brawka.

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