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Lawsuit Set to Begin in Death of Harvard-Westlake Student Blamed on Mustache Trimmer

Almost exactly two years after his shocking death, the trial begins for Ishan Bose-Pyne.

He was barely old enough to shave as it was, but on Sept. 2 two years ago, 16-year-old Ishan Bose-Pyne ran out of his bathroom in flames after using a Wahl’s Groomsman Beard and Mustache Trimmer. The promising honors student at died from his injuries 11 days later.

Next week, on Aug. 28, the Wahl Clipper Corporation will be defending itself in a Los Angeles Federal Court in a complaint filed by Bose-Pyne’s parents. The suit alleges that the teenager was ignited in flames while shaving with a Wahl trimmer.

“He last used the Wahl Clipper on the evening of September 2, 2010, when he emerged from his bathroom engulfed in flames,” states the complaint. "The defective Wahl Clipper that (Bose-Pyne) was using caused his skin and clothing to ignite, which in turn resulted in severe third degree burns to his upper torso, including his chest, back, arms, neck, nose and mouth."

Doctors tried multiple skin grafts to save the boy, but to no avail. 

Wahl Corporation has recalled at least nine products between 2003 and 2011. The complaint states that Wahl identified one of the recalled products, a hairdryer, as having the potential to result in “overheating or fire.”

The complaint further asserts that Wahl denies all responsibility for the teen’s "tragic and untimely death,” and that “rather than acting promptly to protect consumers from falling victim to potentially fatal injuries, Wahl closed ranks and advanced dubious alternate theories of liability and causation."

A request for summary judgment by Wahl's attorneys was denied earlier this summer.

Ishan lived in Los Angeles most of his life with his brother and parents, Vivan Bose-Pyne, Shonali Bose and Bedabrata Pain. He spent months each year with family in New Delhi. He was a student in the 11th grade at Harvard-Westlake School, a chess player, a jazz musician, a physics and math enthusiast. 

He was treated at the Los Angeles County-USC Burn Center for third degree burns over more than half of his body. He died from an infection due to the burns. He was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

His fellow music students played Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" at his funeral. Teachers and faculty also attended.

President Thomas Hudnut said that "resident in this one boy" were all of the qualities teachers admire in their students, including curiosity of mind and a fervent interest in learning.

"He had not just a twinkle in his eye," Hudnut said. "He had a real sparkle."

Read more about what friends and teachers said in The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle.

The trial will be in Courtroom 780 on Tuesday before Judge Margaret M. Morrow, at the Roybal Courthouse, in Los Angeles. Arnold Peter and Marcus Lee of the Peter Law Group will be representing Bose-Pyne’s parents.

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