September 2019
Paying it Forward
After graduating from law school, I spent three years as a Cook County State’s Attorney. It was a fast-paced environment and a great way to get litigation experience.

When I accepted the position, I knew I wouldn’t be there long term; I wanted to work alongside my dad and my brother Steve. For years I heard stories about the cases they handled, and liked that they helped individuals truly in need. I also loved the idea of being a trial lawyer and the role medicine plays in personal injury law (I would have enjoyed being a doctor or a physical therapist, too) so joining the firm was the right choice.

I've always said “Sure!” to requests to dedicate time (gratis) to industry-related activities -- from coaching the trial team at Loyola University Chicago School of Law (my alma mater) to giving seminars and contributing articles about different aspects of civil litigation for the benefit of other attorneys. Earlier this year I wrote in the newsletter about taking over Fred Lane’s Illinois State Bar Association Trial Technique Institute, a program for attorneys to immerse themselves in trial technique over an extended period of time, when my dad was ready to step down as the instructor and pursue other endeavors. It’s been a labor of love from the first session. (The Fall program started September 10.)

One of my other favorite ways of paying it forward is a program I’ve participated in for several years: mentoring students at Loyola's Law School. The students are usually in their first year of school, excited for the opportunity to work one-to-one. We kick things off with a meeting to talk about their interests and from there I share as much of the legal process as possible. Typically, they will sit in on a deposition and, if possible, join me in the courtroom for a court status or hearing. If I'm involved in a trial, they can come and watch. If they are on a trial team and want to test one of their examinations on me or discuss their opening statement, or they are on an appellate advocacy team and want help with their oral argument, I’ll listen and offer advice. And even though we only work together for one academic year, many of my mentees have kept in touch after they graduated so I’ve been able to follow their progress after they start their legal career. It’s made the experience even more meaningful. 

Every month our goal is to share meaningful stories and information with you. Here’s what you’ll find in this newsletter:

  • The story of a New York city personal injury case that is relevant to many of us
  • How to stay safe in the dark now that the days are shorter
  • Upcoming events around the city and suburbs
  • Interesting facts about the Chicago Water Tower you may not know

As always, we welcome your feedback about our emails. And if there is anything our team can do to help you, your family, friends or colleagues, please call or email us. 
Scott Lane
312-332-1400 - office
What Teachers Can Learn from Past Tragedies with "The Rainbow Experiment"
This month we are sharing a personal injury case that took place in Manhattan. If you have children or grandchildren who will take a chemistry class in high school, this story is relevant to you.

It’s called "The Rainbow Experiment,” and it’s a common high school science class demonstration meant to show how different chemicals burn at different light frequencies. But for a high school student from New York City, the experiment went horribly wrong.
A Dangerous Demonstration

In 2014, Alonzo Yanes was a sophomore at Beacon High School when his teacher attempted to show her high school chemistry class how the Rainbow Experiment works. The experiment involves mixing mineral salts with an accelerant (typically methanol). When the experiment is carried out on an open bench using a flammable solvent, the likelihood of a dangerous explosion or flash fire are greatly increased.

That’s exactly what happened in Yanes’ chemistry class. The young man was immediately engulfed in flames. Other students who were able to jump out of the way received first-degree burns, but Yanes suffered third-degree burns over 30% of his body. He was left with permanent scarring and sweat glands that were so damaged that he is still unable to sweat in certain parts of his body. 

Unnecessary Injuries

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of Yanes’ accident is that it didn’t have to happen. Just weeks before it occurred, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued a warning about the dangers of the Rainbow Experiment. In previous years, the experiment had injured at least two other students in a similar fashion.

After the accident, Yanes spent five months in various hospitals recovering and getting skin grafts and surgeries. In July of this year, he was awarded nearly $60 million in damages after a jury found the New York City Department of Education and Yanes’ former teacher liable for damages in the accident. During his trial, the young man said “I was hopelessly burning alive, and I couldn’t put myself out, and the pain was so unbearable.” He also told the jury that he sometimes removes his glasses to avoid seeing strangers stare at his scars.  

The dazzling visual effects of the Rainbow Experiment are what make it so attractive for teachers hoping to capture their students’ attention and imagination. The experiment is also an excellent way to help students understand factors like energy, electromagnetic spectrum, atomic structure, atomic spectra, electrons, and visible light spectrum. But there are alternatives. 

A Safer Rainbow Experiment

All of the conditions for a flash fire were present during the experiment in Yanes’ classroom: the demonstration was carried out in the open and using flammable solvents. While the Rainbow Experiment always involves quite a bit of risk, the American Chemical Society (ACS) and other safety organizations recommend ways to make it safer.

First, according to The Flame Test developed by the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT), the demonstration should always be carried out in a properly-functioning chemical hood. There is still plenty of danger even when performing the experiment under a hood, but this will help minimize the risks. When performing the experiment in a classroom setting, it’s a good idea to do it behind an impact-resistant barrier. If no barrier is present, students should stay at least 10 feet away from the demonstration. Anyone watching the experiment should wear safety goggles and tie back any long hair. 

Another way to create a safer version of this experiment is to modify the ingredients used. Most of the time, the Rainbow Demonstration is carried out by dissolving mineral salts in methanol or ethanol, which are highly flammable solvents. Instead of using either of these, the ACS recommends to use water. Soak wooden sticks in each solution overnight and light them on fire individually before extinguishing them in a dish of water.

Past incidents with The Rainbow Experiment doesn't mean that teachers can no longer use it as a teaching tool. By heeding warnings about its dangers, using proper safety procedures, and carefully controlling flammable resources, teachers can still make use of this visually-stunning demonstration while avoiding a tragedy in the classroom.
This month the Chicago Water Tower celebrates its 150th anniversary. Many Chicagoans know the tower, built in 1869, survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Here are a few facts you may not know. 

It's been listed as 154 feet tall but in 1994, the National Parks Service measured the building at 182 feet, six inches

It wasn’t the only building to survive the fire. According to the Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal, the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, St. Ignatius College Prep, St. Michael’s Church in Old Town, and a police constable cottage on N. Hudson survived. There were also sections of the city on the west and south sides never touched by the fire.

According to the Chicago Architecture Center, a firefighter named Frank Trautman covered the building in woolen blankets and discarded sails soaked in lake water to protect it from flaming debris.
Protect Yourself in the Dark
It’s hard to believe, but summer is over and fall is upon us. With it comes shorter days and longer nights. And regardless of where you live -- city or suburbs -- you need to take precautions when you're out at night as well as early morning.

Whenever possible, avoid walking by yourself — safety in numbers is key when it comes to walking in the dark.
Always know where you’re going and exactly how to get there. Stick to main roads, designated pedestrian areas, and paths that are highly-trafficked and well-lit. You may know your neighborhood like the back of your hand, but it’s still best to avoid shortcuts at night, especially if you have to go through remote alleys, parks, or backstreets. Have your charged cell phone with you in case you need to call for help, but avoid listening to music or talking on the phone for too long. Be fully alert and aware of your surroundings, without any distractions. Keep any valuables safely tucked away and hidden as well.
If you’re running or exercising in the dark, be sure to wear reflective stripes in the front, back, and down the sides of your clothes. Also consider bringing a flashlight or wearing a headlamp. Ideally, run in well-lit areas and with a buddy. Don't forget that the proper place to run is on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
Even if you’re not walking you should take precautions at night. If you’re going to take a taxi, always use a licensed taxi firm; never get in an unmarked taxi. If you use a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, before you get into the car, ask the driver who he or she is picking up to ensure you are getting into the right car. And make sure a friend or family member knows where you’re going and when they can expect you to return, and always let them know when you arrive safely.
Spring Awakening is a rock musical. Waukegan. Through September 28.

Reflections' 25th festival offers lectures, demonstrations, and free entry for seniors and adult chaperones. Art Institute of Chicago. Optional lunch reservations can be purchased online. September 18.

Haute Dog includes cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a fall fashion show featuring dogs and their owners, a silent auction, a speaker, and a look at canine companion puppies. September 19, The Peninsula.

Chicago Artisan Market at Morgan Manufacturing features 100 independent vendors of food, fashion, art and home goods. September 22.

On Peace Day you can listen to speakers and live music, see performances, and watch a ceremony calling out the name of every country with its flag. September 23.

Bon Appetit presents Chicago Gourmet with premium food and wine events showcasing hundreds of restaurant chefs, vintners and breweries in Millennium Park. September 24-29.

The West Town Art Walk includes visual art, music and fashion in restaurants and shops along West Chicago Avenue, from N. Milwaukee Ave. to N. Western Ave. September 27-28. Free.

The Shortcut 100 International Film Festival at The Logan Theatre includes a reception at 5 pm followed by a dozen independent short films from 6-9 pm. September 28.
Elim Dutch Festival features Dutch food, dance, music and vendors, plus a carnival, petting zoo and train rides for kids. Palos Heights. September 28. Free.

The Edgewater Arts Festival features 100 local artists, 3 stages of live music, food vendors and a beer garden. On Granville Avenue from Broadway to Sheridan. Donation. September 28.

The World Dumpling Fest features dumplings from ethnic restaurants in and around Chicago along with interactive craft tables, cultural art vendors and global music acts. Polk Brothers Park at Navy Pier. Free admission with tasting tickets for sale. September 29.

The Chicago Half Marathon and 5K begins in Jackson Park and goes along Lake Shore Drive. September 29.

The Chicago Ultimate Women's Expo features celebrity speakers, chef demos and 600 vendors of beauty and health products. Rosemont. October 5-6.

Take a Haunted History & Ghost Tour, beginning outside The Oriental Theatre downtown. October 5-26. Tickets are $25.

Celebrate fall and Halloween with this guide to Pumpkin Patches in the city and suburbs plus some of the area's best corn mazes near the city.

Celebrate fall with this guide to Pumpkin Patches in the city and suburbs plus the area's best corn mazes. A number of local farms organize fun family activities throughout the month of October.
If you or someone you care about has been injured by someone else's negligence or fault,
and you're ready to take action to obtain justice - the full, fair and complete compensation you deserve - please contact our Chicago-based personal injury law firm today.
Questions? Call us at 312-332-1400 or contact us .