Family of girl burned at school sues city, system for $6.5 million Student, 7, was scalded by hot water from toilet

August 21, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

The family of a 7-year-old girl who was severely burned by water from a malfunctioning toilet at Hazelwood Elementary-Middle School in June has filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against the city and its school system.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleges that school officials failed to provide adequate warning of a dangerous hot water problem at the Northeast Baltimore school, despite previous malfunctions that had burned other people.

As a result, the suit says, first-grader Ashley Moore was scalded by water and steam when she flushed the toilet, leaving her with second- and third-degree burns on the back of her body, from her neck to her ankles.

Catherine Foster, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Education, said yesterday that she had not seen the suit and could not comment on it.

"Of course, we're concerned about this child and her family. Obviously Dr. Amprey wishes [them] the best," Foster said. Walter G. Amprey is the city's superintendent of schools.

Ashley will be permanently disfigured, and will require months in the hospital and multiple skin grafts, according to her lawyer, Robert Feinberg.

At the time of the accident, Foster said that the toilet malfunction resulted from a problem with the school's water heater, which apparently exceeded the maximum temperature designated for the system. The hot water backed up and overflowed into cold water lines in toilets, drinking fountains and sinks, she said.

Principal Edith Harrison warned students and staff over the public address system after two people said they had been burned, but Ashley's class was in the cafeteria and apparently did not hear the announcement, the spokeswoman said.

Harrison, the city Department of Education and the mayor and City Council are named as defendants in the suit.

Pub Date: 8/21/96

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