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Hazmat Team Called to a San Jose Middle School, 2 Students Hospitalized

Hazmat Incident, San Jose, CA

Two Students Hospitalized, others Complain of Difficulty Breathing, resulting from High Levels of Carbon Dioxide at Sunrise Middle School

San Jose, CA -A hazardous materials incident at Sunrise Middle School in San Jose, California, left students struggling to breathe due to elevated levels of carbon dioxide. Emergency responders rushed to the scene, quickly restoring safe conditions after two students were hospitalized for further evaluation.

The Incident

On the morning of May 8, 2024, students at Sunrise Middle School, located on the 1100 block of East Julian Street in San Jose’s Roosevelt Park neighborhood, began experiencing difficulty breathing. The San Jose Fire Department responded to the incident shortly after 9 a.m., deploying their hazardous materials (HazMat) team to investigate the situation. The team discovered elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in one of the school’s classrooms.

Despite initial concerns about the unknown substance affecting the students, the fire department determined that most of the students’ symptoms were resolving by around 10:30 a.m. and released them to their parents or guardians. However, two students were taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Authorities temporarily restricted traffic on East Julian Street and advised people to avoid the area while the HazMat team actively investigated the classroom conditions. Their comprehensive testing for airborne contaminants yielded negative results for all substances except carbon dioxide.

By 11 a.m., traffic restrictions were lifted, and classes resumed after the fire department assured that CO₂ levels had returned to normal and the source had been eliminated. However, officials did not specify what caused the elevated carbon dioxide levels in the classroom.

Legal Implications 

The incident at Sunrise Middle School raises several significant legal questions. Schools owe a duty of care to their students, and a failure to maintain safe conditions could be considered negligence. If the source of the carbon dioxide was a result of poor facility management, the affected students and their families may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. In cases like this, negligence could include inadequate ventilation, failure to maintain safe indoor air quality standards, and insufficient hazard identification and mitigation measures.

Establishing liability will hinge on a thorough investigation of the school’s facilities and maintenance records. The San Jose Fire Department’s HazMat team responded to the incident and confirmed that CO₂ levels returned to normal after removing the source, indicating that the issue was localized to that specific classroom. Victims affected by the incident may be eligible for compensation covering medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. A skilled personal injury attorney can investigate whether negligence played a role and advocate for fair compensation.

Statistics highlight the potential dangers of poor indoor air quality in schools. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), inadequate ventilation and high carbon dioxide levels can result in dizziness, headaches, and breathing difficulties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reported that over 50% of schools in the U.S. have issues with their HVAC systems, potentially impacting ventilation and air quality. Recent data indicates that premises liability claims, such as those involving hazardous conditions on school property, make up around 20% of all personal injury lawsuits filed in California.

The hazardous materials incident at Sunrise Middle School underscores the importance of legal representation for affected students and their families. Elevated carbon dioxide levels in a classroom can cause severe health issues, and determining liability requires thorough legal expertise. Personal injury cases involving schools are complex, as they often require establishing negligence in areas like inadequate ventilation, poor maintenance, and failure to identify hazards.

A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide invaluable assistance. They will conduct a thorough investigation to uncover the source of negligence, assess the school’s duty of care, and determine if it breached its responsibility to provide a safe learning environment. Additionally, an attorney will pursue compensation on behalf of the victims, covering medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Negotiations can be challenging, and a skilled lawyer ensures that families receive the compensation they deserve.

At Scranton Law Firm, our team has over 50 years of experience helping accident victims secure the compensation they deserve, with over $1 billion recovered for injured clients. Our empathetic approach, combined with our expertise and winning track record, ensures that you have the best chance of achieving a successful outcome. If your child was affected by the incident at Sunrise Middle School, reach out to Scranton Law Firm to discuss your case with a compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. Call us today for a free consultation and let us fight for the justice and compensation your family deserves.


1. What legal rights do affected students and families have following this incident?
Students and families affected by the elevated carbon dioxide incident at Sunrise Middle School have the right to seek legal representation and pursue compensation. They may file a personal injury lawsuit if negligence or a breach of the school’s duty of care can be established. Consulting a personal injury attorney is the best way to understand their rights and explore available legal options.

2. What symptoms did the students experience due to the elevated carbon dioxide?
Students at Sunrise Middle School reported difficulty breathing after being exposed to elevated CO₂ levels. Symptoms like dizziness, headaches, and shortness of breath are common with high carbon dioxide concentrations. Two students were taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

3. Could the school be held liable for the incident?
Yes, the school could potentially be held liable if negligence is proven. Schools owe a duty of care to maintain a safe environment for students. Failure to ensure proper ventilation or adequately maintain air quality could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.

4. How can a personal injury attorney help in this case?
A personal injury attorney can investigate the incident to establish liability, determine negligence, and pursue compensation on behalf of the victims. They will handle negotiations with insurance companies or represent clients in court if necessary.

5. What compensation can affected students and families seek?
Victims may be eligible for compensation covering medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. This includes current and future medical expenses related to the incident. A personal injury attorney will help ensure that families receive fair and adequate compensation.


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Don’t navigate the aftermath of a hazmat incident alone. Let the Scranton Law Firm stand by your side. With over 50 years of experience as personal injury lawyers, we’ve helped thousands recover from their losses. If you or a loved one are affected by a San Jose Hazmat Incident, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Secure your rights and seek the justice you deserve. Call us now for a free consultation – The Scranton Law Firm, your trusted ally in these challenging times. Call 800-707-0707 now.