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Richmond School District denies wrongdoing in alleged science experiment accident

An elementary student was allegedly injured after a water bottle was launched into their eye.
A former teacher at Jesse Wowk elementary was sued for an accident that allegedly happened during a science experiment.

A lawsuit concerning a Richmond student's injury from an alleged science experiment accident is crawling through the court system after the school district denied wrongdoing.

Keson Mui filed a civil claim in the B.C. Supreme Court back in May 2023, alleging a teacher failed to properly supervise an experiment to launch a two-litre bottle of water in the air using a bicycle pump, which ended with the bottle being launched into his child's face.

The former Jesse Wowk elementary teacher, Orson Woo, and the Richmond School District were named as defendants in the case.

Mui claimed the teacher, who stopped teaching at the school "within weeks following the accident" and the school district were liable for the teacher's negligence and sought damages.

According to his notice of civil claim, Mui said his child suffered injuries including retinal detachment of the left eye, partial blindness, pain and discomfort and psychological harm.

In response to the News' request for an update, David Sadler, Richmond School District spokesperson, declined to comment on the case because it's before the courts.

"British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by public bodies, which would include details of legal cases involving individuals in a school setting," he said.

"This matter is currently under legal consideration, and as such, we are unable to provide specific details or discuss the proceedings publicly."

The school district and Woo denied all of Mui's allegations in their response to the lawsuit filed in June 2023.

They denied the accident happened "in the manner or at the time as alleged or at all" and said the teacher was not negligent or in breach of any duty of care owed to Mui's child.

The school district and Woo rejected Mui's claim that his child suffered injuries and losses as a result of their actions and said if the child did suffer any injury, it was not caused by their negligence or breach of duty.

They added the premises were "reasonably safe for use" at the time and there was no "objectively unreasonable risk of harm" posed by the premises and the activities.

If Mui's child was injured from the incident, the school district and Woo said it was due to the child's negligence or others not named in the lawsuit, which included failing to follow instructions to not engage in any activity without the teacher's presence and engaging in "horseplay" when the child knew or ought to have known they might get injured.

They also denied liability for the child's injury, loss and health-care costs.

Court records show no hearing has been scheduled yet as of the publication of this article.

- With files from Maria Rantanen

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