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.