Student files $5M lawsuit against school board over glass safety
Lawyer says more than 100 claims against Ontario schools related to safety glass in 13 years
A Burlington student filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Halton Catholic District School Board Tuesday morning, nearly one year after he severely lacerated his arm trying to push open a hallway door.
The suit alleges the wire mesh “safety glass,” in place as a fire retardant, is more dangerous than its plate glass counterpart – something the suit claims the board is aware of.
The suit contains allegations that have not been proven in court.
“The glass essentially severed half of his forearm. If you can imagine taking a slice, slicing your forearm in half,” said Michael Smitiuch, lawyer of Sean Lloyd, a former student from Assumption Catholic Secondary School.
Last May, Lloyd, then 18 and in Grade 12, was running late for class. His lawyer says the high school student rushed to open a door, pushing the glass instead of the metal bar.
The glass broke and his arm went through. His lawyer says the muscles, nerves and tendons were severely lacerated, and the once avid high school athlete has not regained the full use of his arm a year later.
"This case raises serious concerns about the potential danger that wired glass poses for all students," said Smitiuch. "The reality is that Sean is one of far too many young people injured by wired glass in schools."
Lloyd’s lawyer says the Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange has more than 100 claims against Ontario schools related to safety glass in the past 13 years.
Smitiuch says the size of the claim is in part because of those numbers.
“Three million dollars of it is for punitive damages, because our opinion is the school board knew that wired glass was very dangerous and didn't take appropriate action,” said Smitiuch.
Doug Perovic, a University of Toronto engineering professor who will give evidence in the case, says the wire meshed glass breaks more easily.
“The fracture toughness of that glass is significantly reduced. And in fact, it's reduced even more than regular cheap window glass,” Perovic.”That's how bad it is.”
The school board could not be reached for comment.