Posted on Jan 21, 2008
Local students awarded $18 million

 Dick Russ  
Created: 1/17/2008 6:22:24 PM
Updated:1/18/2008 3:37:32 PM

Two students of Western Reserve Academy, who were burned in a chemistry class fire, have won an $18.9 million settlement.
Calais Weber and Celia Chen were among eight people injured in the flash fire that happened during a chemistry demonstration on January 23, 2006.

Weber was burned over 46% of her body, spent 70 days in the hospital, and required numerous skin grafts. Chen was burned over 18% of her body. They, four other students, a teacher, and the teacher's 10-year-old son were injured when a common chemistry demonstration went erupted into a flash fire.

Paul Perantinides, the lawyer for students and their families, said part of the settlement will be spent to create a program that will prevent similar accidents.

Weber and her family had agreed to a settlement in the summer of 2007 but the terms were not released until the outcome of the Chen case, which had been scheduled to go to trial in December, 2007.

Russell Morrison, director of marketing and public relations of WRA, confirmed the terms of the settlements and issued this statement:

"We deeply regret this incident and the injury it caused those who were present that day. We hope these settlements will allow the individuals involved to continue to move on with their lives."

"We also hope it will help bring closure for our entire school community as well as for the students and their families."

"It is important for the public to know that these settlements are covered by our insurance carrier. We believe that the agreements we've reached are fair. However, it will not have an impact on our programs or on WRA's finances going forward."

Calais Weber and Celia Chen are both now 17 years old and attend college.

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