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Boy, 7, Gets 2nd-Degree Burns From School Lunch

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 09, 2013 9:11 AM

One first-grader in Philadelphia who suffered second-degree burns from his school lunch may be bringing his own lunch to school from now on.

When Ja-Kye Robinson couldn't get his bag of taco meat open, he did what any 7-year-old would do out of frustration: He punched it open. The extremely hot meat ended up splattering all over his face, causing him second-degree burns.

But what potential legal recourse does his family have?

Burning Hot Taco Meat -- and Ice

Most likely due to budget cuts, Pennell Elementary School didn't have a nurse present during the incident, reports Philadelphia's WTXF-TV.

Believing that a 911 call was unnecessary, the school principal and staff didn't call for help and tried to treat the boy themselves.

Adding insult to injury, school staff placed ice on the burn -- a mistake, according to burn-treatment guidelines from the hospital that treated him, because it can further damage the skin.

Lawsuit Heating Up?

Ja-Kye and his family may be thinking about suing the school district for allegedly serving excessively hot school food and mishandling Ja-Kye's medical treatment. Suing a school district is no easy feat and involves a complex legal process, but Ja-Kye's case seems quite strong.

A number of situations can form the basis for filing a negligence lawsuit against a school district, including injury caused to a student school grounds or during school activities.

In this case, Robinson's second-degree burns suffered on school grounds due to lack of supervision and unreasonably hot cafeteria food may yield medical expenses along with damages for pain and suffering.

After all, hot food-related lawsuits comprise a cornerstone of negligence caselaw. When it comes to children, the liability is only stronger. A school district spokesman even told WTXF the food should not have been so hot when it was served, and they're looking into how it happened.

Because of the meat's high heat and the school's failure to seek proper medical attention for Ja-Kye, the school may soon be shelling out more than just tacos.

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