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High School Student Injured at Robotics Competition Files Lawsuit against School District

Friday, June 30, 2017By Richard Alexander

Robotics competitions are usually times of great pride. After weeks, months, or even years of building a robot that meets every requirement of the competition, engineers finally get to see their finished product in action. Controlling or watching the robot you’ve spent so much time on do what it was designed to do should be an extremely satisfying experience. Unfortunately for Taron Malkhashyan, what should have been a fun competition became a terrible event that may affect him for the rest of his life.

Taron went to Bernstein High School and worked on the robot Optimus for the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District). Optimus was designed for the NTMA (National Tooling and Machining Association) Training Center Robotics League Regional Competition in Santa Fe. Unfortunately, the competition and the events leading up to it were the perfect storm for disaster.

During the competition, Optimus’s battery exploded, and fragments of it struck Taron. He was hit in multiple places, but the only lasting injuries that resulted from the explosion were from the fragments in his eyes. Taron’s vision has been irreversibly damaged, and his vision loss could thwart his dream job as a mechanical engineer.

There was no indication of a problem when Optimus was being built, but the battery is suspected to be defective, so Robot Marketplace, the company who manufactured it, is a defendant in the lawsuit Taron filed. Punjatorn Chanudomchuck, the teacher in charge of the LAUSD team, is also a defendant. He was supposed to chaperone and supervise the event but never showed up. The competition continued unsupervised, which is why the NTMA Training Center is also a defendant.

It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if all the events surrounding the robotics competition had lined up differently, but because of the damages caused by the products used and the negligence by the teacher and the training center, Taron deserves compensation.

If you believe you or your family deserves compensation for severe injuries or death, contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online. Our talented team of lawyers will make sure you get the largest settlement possible under the circumstances of your case.

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