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MIT frat settles suit over explosion

Aug. 11, 2010 at 1:19 AM   |   Comments

BOSTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts Institute of Technology fraternity has settled a lawsuit over a prank that caused an explosion in which two people were injured.

As part of their annual prank, The Boston Globe reported, Tau Epsilon Phi members stole sodium metal, which explodes when it becomes wet, from MIT's chemistry labs and threw it into the Charles River in September 2007. The sodium metal, in a container resembling Styrofoam, exploded aboard a boat on the river, injuring two environmental cleanup volunteers, Thomas Soisson and Kate Nardin, when they pulled it from the river.

The insurer for Tau Epsilon Phi and a member, Bhaskar Mookerji, have agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to Soisson and Nardin for medical expenses and emotional trauma, their lawyer, John J. Barton, told the Globe. He declined to give the exact amount.

Both victims suffered burns from molten plastic and a white caustic material. Soisson underwent skin graft surgery. Nardin, who was treated for burns, suffered infections and scarring.

The fraternity came under investigation for the prank after Massachusetts State Police discovered a YouTube video about students hurling the sodium metal into the Charles River.

Mookerji, now 22 and attending graduate school at MIT, confessed in April 2008 to tossing the material into the river. He was charged with disorderly conduct and environmental pollution but the criminal charges were dropped after he did community service.

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