The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Prep School Cooking Class Fire Injures 5

A cooking class fire at a public prep school injured five students, resulting with one in critical condition.

The fire occurred in a science lab at Northside College Prep. Students were reportedly heating hot chocolate during a routine cooking instruction when a single-burner stove ignited with a flame, causing a flash fire, Chicago's WMAQ-TV reports.

Will the school be liable for the students' injuries resulting from a cooking class gone wrong?

School Fire Liability

One critically injured student was transported to Mt. Sinai Hospital. The three others were transported with minor injuries to Swedish Covenant. A fifth student refused treatment.

If the students and their parents opt to pursue legal action over the incident, they could name several defendants in a lawsuit, including:

  • Teachers. It's the duty of teachers to properly supervise their students. If it's discovered the Northside teacher failed to keep a close eye on the students during the cooking instruction and could have prevented the accident, his or her negligence could lead to civil liability for the resulting injuries.
  • School district. Like teachers, school districts bear responsibility for keeping students reasonably safe. Under the legal theory of premises liability, the school owes a duty to review its activities, facilities, and equipment to minimize injury risks. When a school fails to meet these duties, such as making sure cooking class burners are in good working order, a parent could sue the school district for resulting injuries.
  • Students and parents. If fellow students contributed to the accident -- for example, by goofing around or fiddling with the stove -- they could face potential liability for their actions.
  • Manufacturer. If the single-burner stove incident ignited a fire because of a product defect, the injured students could sue the manufacturer under a theory of product liability.

As an investigation into the incident unfurls, it should become clearer what caused the accident and who may face liability for the injuries.

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