The family of an Ottawa student killed in a shop-class explosion two years ago has filed a $400,000 lawsuit against the Ottawa Catholic School Board and a teacher.
Eric Leighton, an 18-year-old student at Mother Teresa Catholic High School, was killed on May 26, 2011, after he used a hand grinder on a steel drum in shop class as part of a project to make a barbeque.
A spark ignited the gas inside the drum — which once contained flammable peppermint oil — and there was an explosion, killing him and injuring other students.
In a statement of claim filed May 23, Leighton's parents, Patrick and Sheri Leighton, sister Kaitlyn and grandparents Allan and Gale Deering say the school board and teacher Scott Michael Day are liable for negligence in the boy's death.
They lay out 19 failures of the board and teacher, and said both defendants should have foreseen the potential danger of doing hot work on a barrel that once contained a combustible gas.
Leighton's mother diagnosed with depression
The family is claiming damages for the loss of care, guidance and companionship had Eric Leighton not died.
Patrick Leighton was unable to return to work for three months following Eric's death as a result of inconsolable grief and shock, according to the statement of claim.
It also claims Sheri Leighton was on short-term and then long-term disability through her employer's insurance plan as a result of her grief and shock, and made several unsuccessful attempts to return to work following her son's death.
After a five-month return to work in 2012, she was diagnosed with a major depression disorder attributed to her son's death and has been instructed not to return to work, according to the statement of claim.
Patrick and Sheri Leighton have and continue to incur out-of-pocket expenses, it states.
Day has been a teacher with the Catholic school board since 2008, according to the statement of claim. His Ontario College of Teachers profile says Day received his qualifications for technological education in September 2010 and graduated from Queen’s University faculty of education in 2011.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has already fined the Ottawa Catholic School Board $275,000 after the board pleaded guilty to failing to provide instruction or supervision, take every reasonable precaution to protect the workplace and acquaint the supervisor with hazards associated with the handling of equipment at the shop.
The court also prohibited the school from welding, cutting or other "hot work."
A coroner's inquest into Leighton's death has also been called, but no date has been set.