Los Angeles Unified and a battery pack manufacturing company reached a settlement with a student at a Hollywood high school who was injured when a battery within a robot exploded during a robotics league competition in 2015, court papers obtained Tuesday show.
Lawyers for Taron Malkhashyan filed paperwork Oct. 7 in Los Angeles Superior Court stating that his lawsuit filed in April 2017 was resolved. No terms were divulged and it was not immediately clear if the LAUSD’s part of the settlement was subject to Board of Education approval.
LAUSD lawyers maintained in their court papers that the district had no liability because the competition was not a school-sponsored activity and because it was not held on school premises.
The suit also named as a defendant TNR Technical Inc. In their court papers, lawyers for the company denied the plaintiff’s allegations that the devices were defective and said the student made substantial alterations in the battery packs that were not foreseeable.
Malkhashyan was a student at Bernstein High School in Hollywood when he took part in the NTMA Training Center Robotics League Regional Competition in Santa Fe Springs on April 18, 2015, and competed on a team organized by the LAUSD, according to his court papers.
A robot called Optimus was entered into the competition by the school district, and an LAUSD teacher was supposed to chaperone and coach the students, but failed to show up, the suit alleged.
“As such, the schoolchildren were completely unsupervised at the robotics competition,” the complaint stated.
The robot’s battery exploded during the event and fragments struck Malkhashyan, including his eyes, according to the complaint.
“Metal fragments of the battery continue to remain in his eyes,” the suit stated. “His vision has been permanently degraded.”