Friday, November 17, 2023

Lawsuit against Carthage R-9 District claims student disfigured by explosion during demonstration

A former Carthage High School student who was injured during a 2019 demonstration at the Carthage Technical Center is suing the R-9 District and Board of Education for damages.

In the lawsuit, which was filed today in Jasper County Circuit Court, Blake W. Beatty, 22, claims an explosion that occurred in a welding class under the guidance of instructor Tom Howard resulted in metal debris striking Beatty and causing him to "suffer injuries to his head, face, mouth, teeth, and jaw. 

"Said injuries have caused or contributed to cause pain, suffering, anguish, permanent disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment and quality of life. Plaintiff has incurred medical, surgical, and pharmaceutical expenses, and other incidental pecuniary and/or economic damages. Plaintiff has also incurred wage loss."

Beatty details the events of that evening in the petition.

On or about September 13, 2019, Plaintiff Beatty enrolled in Ag Construction class at the Carthage R-9 School District-Carthage Technical Center. The Ag Construction class is part of the education curriculum offered by Carthage R-9 School District in which Beatty was enrolled as a student. 

On the above date, Beatty was attending a school sponsored welding class as part of his Ag Construction course. On the above date, Defendant Board of Education and Defendant Carthage R-9 School District, by and through its employee Tom Howard, who was acting within the course and scope of his employment with Carthage R-9 School District, instructed a student in the Ag Construction class to take a small metal box, which Carthage owned and provided, drill a hole in the top, and partially fill it with water. 

Defendant Board of Education and Carthage School District owned and/or exclusively possessed and controlled the metal box being used on this date. After drilling a hole in the metal box and partially filling it with water, the hole was then welded over, whereupon instructor Tom Howard was supposed to use a torch to heat the water inside the box. 

On the date in question, however, instructor Tom Howard allowed another student to use the torch to heat the metal box, at all times under the direction and control of Mr. Howard. Tom Howard instructed the student where to place the torch on the box and for how long. 

While heating the box with the torch, steam began exiting the box, prompting several students to express concern the box may explode. Mr. Howard rebuked the students’ concerns about the box exploding and told the student who was heating the box to keep heating it. 

The student heating the box removed the torch from the box for a short while but returned the torch to the box after Mr. Howard directed him to do so. 

Shortly after returning the torch to the box, the box exploded from the pressure and sent metal debris flying through the air. The flying metal debris struck Plaintiff Beatty in the head, face, mouth, teeth, and jaw, causing serious injury and disfigurement. 

The metal box in question constituted a dangerous condition of public property at the time of Plaintiff Beatty’s injury. The metal box was in a dangerous condition due to (a) being negligently and improperly constructed, (b) a defect, (c) the negligent conduct of Mr. Howard in instructing the student to overheat the metal box and for too long, or (d) a combination of (a), (b) and (c).

Carthage R-9 School District had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition. The dangerous condition of the metal box, either as improperly constructed, through Mr. Howard’s negligent conduct, or both, created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of harm incurred. 

Defendant Board of Education and Carthage R-9 School District, by and through its employees, including but not limited to Mr. Howard, created the dangerous condition or had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition to have taken measures to protect against the injury.

Beatty is represented by attorney Patrick Martucci of the firm of Johnson, Vorhees and Martucci.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These allegations seem almost too stupid to believe.

Which doesn't mean they are not true.

One never knows what's next in the Four Corners.