A researcher who was seriously injured in a lab explosion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has filed a lawsuit against the school. The explosion, which took place nearly a year ago in March, occurred in the University’s Pacific Ocean Sciences and Technology (POST) facility. Shortly after the explosion, the University reached a settlement with officials from the state Occupational Safety and Health Division to enact measures that make the facility safer and pay nearly $70,000 in fines.
While the school was fined in connection to the lab explosion, these fines did not provide compensation to the injured victim. As such, the victim, a post-doctoral researcher invited to train at the UH Manoa lab, chose to exercise her legal right of pursuing compensation against the University for their culpability in causing the explosion and her injuries by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit filed in January, the victim alleges that the University and lab supervisors responsible for oversight of the facility and hazardous materials failed in multiple ways to ensure her safety and the safety of others. Her claims include:
- Failures to provide proper safety training despite requests and a lack of experience with materials being used.
- Failures and refusals to warn about the potential hazards involved in working with hazardous materials.
- Negligence and gross negligence for failing to address dangerous conditions on public property.
- Emotional injuries and loss of consortium for both the victim and her spouse.
As a result of the alleged failures of UH Manoa and staff, the victim suffered extensive injuries that include the loss of her arm, injuries to her eye, burns, and nerve damage that has resulted in a partial loss of hearing. These injuries are extensive, and the personal injury lawsuit can allow the victim to pursue a recover for her damages, which will also take into account her permanent impairment and the emotional injuries suffered by her and her spouse, in addition to her medical expenses, lost work wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Officials from the University of Manoa at Hawaii have not commented on the pending lawsuit, but they have reported various actions being taken since the explosion last year. This includes a plan to update the laboratory facility, implementation of new safety standards and procedures, use of risk assessment programs, and improved safety education for individuals who use the facility.
While it remains to be seen how the case will proceed, the lawsuit does illustrate the importance of personal injury lawsuits filed in the civil justice system. For example, the incident placed accountability on the school and compelled the University to take critical steps in ensuring the safety of the facility so that others do not suffer the same type of preventable harm. Most importantly, it also provides the opportunity the victim and her loved one need to recover their damages.
At Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, our legal team understands the important role we play in protecting the rights of injured victims and protecting the safety of others by holding negligent parties accountable for causing preventable harm. Often, our efforts to hold negligent defendant’s responsible results in positive changes that help prevent similar acts of negligence and tragic events, as well as the sense of justice and compensation our clients deserve. Over the years, we have helped recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements by being passionate about guiding our clients through the civil justice system.
If you have questions about your rights following an accident caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of others, including accidents that occur on public property or in public facilities, contact our Hawaii personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.