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The manufacturer of the motorized room partition that killed a nine year old boy in Alexandria, VA stated this month that the product was working properly at the time of the accident. 

The boy was killed after he was crushed between a wall and a partition at Franconia Elementary School. Modernfold, the company that produces the product, stated the device did not malfunction when the child died. It stated that it appeared the incident was a ‘terrible accident,’ but the investigation is ongoing.

The boy was in the gym at the school when he and a teacher pushed a button at the same time to open the partition. The student was caught between the wall and partition and suffered traumatic head injuries. Fairfax County Public Schools stated that it has stopped all use of the partitions while the accident is being investigated.

Officials at the school stated that safety protocols are in place, but did not tell the media what those were. It is known that children are not supposed to operated the motorized partition. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the accident.

In New York state, the same partitions have been linked to two deaths.

Our View

Our product liability attorneys in Virgina were saddened to read of this young man’s death in such a tragic accident at school. It is possible this case could turn into a product liability lawsuit, which is usually based upon strict liability and not negligence. Strict liability means it is not necessary to prove fault on the part of the manufacturer of the device. Your attorney must show the product was unreasonably defective or dangerous, the person was injured from the product, and the injury was due to a defect in the device.

The law understands that some products are inherently dangerous, such as a knife or gun. But if a consumer uses a product that does not have a known inherent risk, there could be a case.

The case above is complex because it is not certain at this time if the partition device was working properly. The fact that it appears that the boy and teacher pressed a button at the same time to activate the partition is concerning, especially because the child was not supposed to be operating the product at all.

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