Teenager settles suit over alleged school negligence

From TheStar

KUALA LUMPUR: A teenager who suffered 25% burns on the body from the alleged negligence of a teacher when he took part in a co-curricular activity as a boy scout has settled his civil suit.

Student Haydn Shawe Zanshin Shan Chinson St James, now 19, and his father settled the claim against the Government, the Education Minister and four others.

After the proceedings in chambers Tuesday, the plaintiffs’ lead counsel Alex De Silva said the suit was settled amicably.

“The Judicial Commissioner (Mohd Firuz Jaffril) recorded a consent judgment. We can’t reveal the terms of settlement,” he told reporters here.

Senior Federal Counsel Zureen Elina Mohd Dom confirmed the settlement.

Haydn’s father Kenneth Yoong Ken Chinson St James told The Star his son was now studying at a university in Sydney.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Haydn. He is a very tough boy. He went through excruciating pain for a long period of time. But he bounced back,” he said.

He said they filed the action so that schools and the Government would realise they have to expend more effort, money and time to make schools safe for children.

“They must also train their personnel better, to ensure no negligent act or omission is committed against our children, whom we place in their care,” he added.

In the amended statement of claim dated April 13, 2015, the plaintiffs said a teacher poured or threw a flammable fluid believed to be turpentine directly onto a fire, which students in Haydn’s group had started for cooking at about 3.30pm on April 4, 2012, during the scouts activity on the premises of the national school in Desa Sri Hartamas here.

They said some of the fluid splashed onto Hadyn’s body and clothes.

Haydn, then 14, was diagnosed with second and third degree burns on about 25% of his body.

He was hospitalised for 27 days and underwent several skin graft procedures.

Haydn would frequently cry out from the pain, distress and severe itchiness.

Among others, the St James’ sued the parties for wrongful act, negligence and breach of duty of care.

They named the teacher, Government, Education Minister, Education Ministry director-general, its Federal Territory department director and the school principal as defendants.

They claimed the teacher had failed to take precaution and care in the handling of flammable fluids.

They sought RM22,243 in special damages and an unspecified sum in general and aggravated damages.

In the statement of defence, the defendants denied any wrongful act, negligence or breach of duty of care, saying the teacher, who was a school scouts advisor, took reasonable steps during the activity that day.

The teacher claimed Haydn had committed contributory negligence for his injuries.

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