Sport Chalet burn victim files lawsuit

One of two employees injured in an explosion at the La Cañada Flintridge Sport Chalet on March 1 is suing the company.

Lauren Polzin, a 27-year-old who led the store's scuba department, was severely burned when she was asked to shut off a gas valve after someone reported smelling gas. The incident, described by authorities as a "flash fire," occurred in a utility closet near the store's pool.

Polzin and her husband, Neil Polzin, filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, May 23. The couple is also suing, among others, those who manufactured and serviced the swimming pool's heating system, claiming it was dangerous. The explosion was the result of a gas leak in the system, the suit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the incident was the result of "negligence, carelessness, recklessness and unlawfulness" on the part of Sport Chalet and the other defendants. The suit also claims that the gas-supply system in the store was unsafe.

Lauren Polzin suffered mental and physical pain, including damage to her nervous system, as a result of the incident, the suit states, adding that her injuries could lead to a "permanent disability."

Polzin has been in the hospital since the incident, according to the suit, for burn-related injuries. Her husband, Neil Polzin, had previously told the Valley Sun that she suffered severe burns over a large portion of her body and was unable to talk or move following the incident.

As a result of her injuries, Lauren Polzin was unable to return to her job at Sport Chalet, or work at all, according to the lawsuit. The couple is seeking an undetermined amount for the damages, as well as costs incurred seeking medical and legal aid.

Victor Gonzalez, a 25-year-old supervisor at the La Cañada Flintridge store, was also severely injured by the explosion. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Arson Explosive Detail continue to investigate the incident.

Sport Chalet initiated fundraisers for both employees following the incident. The company is collecting funds through July, but previously said that the families of both Polzin and Gonzalez would be able to access the money at any time. As of this week, the fundraiser for Polzin has collected more than $15,000, while the one for Gonzalez has collected more than $9,000. The company also hosted a blood drive at its La Cañada Flintridge corporate offices on March 26 in support of the two employees.

A spokesperson for Sport Chalet declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the pending litigation.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

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