Marmion Academy wants lawsuit for science experiment injury thrown out

Posted8/1/2013 5:38 PM

Attorneys representing Marmion Academy in a lawsuit filed by a former student who was injured during a science experiment in May 2010 want the matter dismissed.

They argue the private Aurora high school, like other schools, have tort immunity under the Illinois School Code from negligence lawsuits.

Marmion attorneys also contend the complaint filed on behalf of Zachary Bennett, who has since graduated, falls short of showing "willful and wanton conduct."

Bennett, of Aurora, sued earlier this year for more than $50,000 in damages stemming from a May 11, 2010, chemistry experiment.

According to the lawsuit, Bennett's hand was coated with a polyacrylate solution to act as a heat barrier below a layer of soap bubbles filled with methane gas. The bubbled were set on fire and the solution protected Bennett's hand.

The teacher, who approved the experiment, and class wanted to expand the experiment by putting the solution on Bennett's entire body. The solution was applied while Bennett was standing and lit on fire. Bennett panicked and slipped on the liquid solution on the floor, falling forward and hitting his face and injuring his teeth, according to the suit.

The two sides appeared briefly in Kane County court Thursday and are due back before Judge James Murphy Oct. 3, when the motion to dismiss could be heard.

"The plaintiff's amended complaint contains no allegation that the plaintiff burned during the experiment; rather, at the conclusion of the experiment, the plaintiff allegedly slipped on liquid from the experiment that was on the floor, fell and hit his face on the floor," wrote Marmion attorneys in their motion to dismiss.

Marmion attorneys argue the school is protected by the Illinois School Code and the "willful and wanton conduct" claim is deficient and basically a claim of negligence, which is protected, again, by the school code.

"Willful and wanton conduct must go 'far beyond' acts or omissions that might constitute ordinary negligence because it requires a conscious decision to disregard the safety of others," the attorneys argued in court filings.

Bret Franco, attorney for Marmion, declined to comment.

Michael Clancey, attorney for Bennett, did not immediately return a phone message.

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