The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Lincoln Park High School Chem Lab Fire Leads to Lawsuit

By Paul Biasco | April 17, 2014 6:42am | Updated on April 17, 2014 6:46am
 The family of a student who was burned during a fire inside the chemistry lab at Lincoln Park High School in November filed a lawsuit against the school district, the high school and the teacher last week.
Lincoln Park High School Chemistry Lab Fire
View Full Caption

LINCOLN PARK — The mother of a student who was burned in a chemistry lab fire at Lincoln Park High School is suing the school, Chicago Public Schools and the teacher involved.

Jennifer Dryden, the mother of student Tatiana Schwirblat, filed the lawsuit last week arguing the chemistry teacher, Joy Walter, and other defendants were negligent.

The chemistry lab fire broke out just before noon Nov. 25 and injured a total of five students, authorities said at the time.

Tatiana, 16, suffered second-degree burns, including burns on her face, authorities said.

Paul Biasco talks with DNAinfo Radio about the Lincoln Park High School lawsuit:

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court claims Walter was demonstrating an experiment involving the ignition of elements when the fire erupted.

Walter was igniting the element cobalt in a Petri dish with a match and poured an "unmeasured" amount of methanol over the cobalt and match, which sparked an explosion, according to the lawsuit.

Tatiana's clothes caught fire, causing burns on her body and face, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims Walter failed to take steps to protect students from injury, including putting up a shield around the Petri dish to prevent injury in case of an explosion.

It also claims she failed to measure out the methanol before using it as an accelerant in a chemical experiment.

Another student who witnessed the experiment said watching her classmate's sweater catch fire was the "scariest thing ever."

The witness said the flames quickly spread to another lab table and ignited the girl's sweater.

A Chicago Fire Department official at the time said Tatiana was wearing eye protection, but suffered second-degree burns on her face and abdomen.

She was treated at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

A family member of Walter reached by phone Wednesday referred all questions to Chicago Public Schools. A CPS spokeswoman said the school system does not comment on pending litigation.

Dryden is represented by Sean Driscoll of Clifford Law Offices and is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.