Illinois high school teacher pours liquid nitrogen on student burning his groin area, finger in botched experiment
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: A former chemistry teacher has been declared guilty of executing a botched experiment that burned a student’s body parts and left him in extreme pain. Garry Brodersen was convicted on Tuesday, March 9, after a jury found him guilty of reckless conduct and endangering the health or life of a child. Both the charges that the 66-year-old man faced are misdemeanors.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement, “Mr. Brodersen displayed extremely poor judgment when he doused a student with a dangerous chemical during a science demonstration.” The prosecutors said the former teacher of Bartlett High School poured liquid nitrogen on a student’s chest and groin area while carrying out a science demonstration in front of the class three years ago. The failed experiment burned the victim’s finger and groin. A spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office said, though the student’s consent was taken before carrying out the demonstration, he thought the chemical would be poured over his chest area, not on his groin area.
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For the experiment, the victim laid on his back in a classroom as Brodersen spilled liquid nitrogen on his chest area. But a large amount was also poured on his groin, which left him in excruciating pain. The spokesman added that now the student has fully recovered.
According to School District U-46, which includes Bartlett High School, after the incident, Brodersen quit his job and also willingly gave away his teaching certificate in June 2018. “We acted quickly to address the incident internally, recognizing the severity of the breach of conduct,” a spokeswoman said in an email to the Chicago Tribune. Currently, the convicted man from Carpentersville is free on bond and will return to court on March 18 for post-trial motions or sentencing.
In another incident, a former high school student in Beacon, New York, was given around $60 million in damages by a Manhattan jury in 2019 after the young man was permanently disfigured in a botched chemistry experiment. Alonzo Yanes suffered burns on January 2, 2014, when the chemistry teacher Anna Poole lit a fireball during a "Rainbow Experiment" to show the colored flames produced by multiple salts. The incident left the student with third-degree burns over 30% of his body, including his face, neck, arms, and hands.
The 21-year-old was given around $29.6 million for past pain and suffering, and the same amount for pain and suffering in the future. Yanes’ lawyer Ben Rubinowitz said that his client's family was "very pleased" but would give up all the money “in a heartbeat if there was a way that the entire event could be undone.” During the hearing, Yanes, who was 16 at the time of the incident, also testified about his injuries as he said, “I was hopelessly burning alive, and I couldn’t put myself out, and the pain was so unbearable."
Jurors found the city's Department of Education as well as the teacher responsible for negligence and "substantial” negligence. One of the jurors, 65-year-old Jo Ann Jacobsen, said: “We thought that Anna Poole was very negligent but she was less responsible than the Board of Education. They should have given her the rules. You can’t risk children’s lives."