A former student of the Madeira School who allegedly received permanent facial scars in a September 1979 hazing incident is suing the school and a classmate supposedly involved in the incident for a total of $1 million.
The suit, filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, charges that a group of students at Madeira called "The Brazen Hussies" blindfolded Diana M. Lax of Vienna and "poured a liquid chemical substance" on her that caused severe burns on her face. The incident was part of an initiation rite, according to the suit.
The suit was filed against Ana Patricia Palomo of Lititz, Pa., who is alleged to be a member of the student group, and the Madeira Board of Directors. Each is being sued for $250,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.
The suit charges that Madeira was negligent in not preventing the hazing, and that Palomo was involved directly in the incident.
In papers filed at the court, lawyers for Madeira denied responsibility for the for the alleged incident. Lax, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, left Madeira in the spring of 1980 and transferred to another school, according to her brother, David. She was a sophomore at the time of the incident, he added.
Officials at Madeira, a nationally known girls' school in McLean, declined to comment on the case yesterday. Lawyers for both sides were unavailable.
The suit, which was filed in March, has not yet come to trial. The plaintiff has requested a trial by jury.
Lax, whose case was filed on her behalf by her father, charges that the burns "on and about" her face caused "pain and suffering, adverse psychological effects, mental anguish, embarrassment, inconvenience, and monetary costs for treatment." The suit also states that the scars will require treatment in the future.
"The Brazen Hussies" was listed in the 1979-80 Madeira School catalogue under "clubs and organizations." The incident is alleged to have taken place Sept. 18, 1979.
The alleged hazing incident was mentioned briefly by Jean Harris, the school's former headmistress, during her trial on charges of killing Dr. Herman Tarnower, creator of the Scarsdale diet. Harris, who was convicted of second-degree murder, testified that she was very depressed the day of Tarnower's death because she had received a note from a student burned in a hazing at the school.