Student sues GW for burns suffered in International House shower

Updated: Oct. 11, 2019 at 9:17 a.m.

A student is suing GW for third-degree burns she experienced last year after having a seizure in International House.

In a two-page lawsuit filed in the D.C. Superior Court Friday, senior Gabrielle Blaine claims that the shower head in International House emitted water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit, causing her to suffer third-degree burns. Blaine is demanding $3 million from the University for medical procedures and mental anguish she experienced as a result of the burns.

“As a result of being scalded by hot water in the International House shower, Ms. Blaine suffered severe and permanent personal injuries (including specifically third-degree scalds on her upper legs and lower torso),” the complaint states.

Blaine did not return a request for comment.

Housing officials authorized Blaine to live alone in an apartment-style room in International House because she suffered from occasional seizures and needed to maintain a regular sleep schedule to prevent seizures, the complaint states.

Blaine received the burns after she experienced a seizure while taking a shower and lost consciousness on Feb. 13 last year, according to the complaint. When she regained consciousness, she had suffered severe burns on her lower body from the hot water emitted from the shower head.

Immediately after the incident, an ambulance rushed Blaine to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, where she received treatment in the hospital’s burn unit, according to the complaint.

“In the days following Ms. Blaine’s scalding, her showerhead was determined to be emitting water at a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit,” the complaint states.

Blaine is alleging one count of negligence, claiming that officials violated plumbing codes that require shower temperatures not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Under absolutely no circumstances should water come out of a dorm showerhead at 150 degrees Fahrenheit,” Chris Regan, Blaine’s lawyer, said in an email. “Students should be able to rely on GW to follow the common-sense, public safety regulations designed to prevent things like this from happening.”

University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the University has not been served with the lawsuit.

The D.C. Superior Court will hold an initial scheduling conference for the case on Jan. 10, according to court records.

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