Below are excerpts from and links to the various news stories google found discussing the UCLA charges. Media Coverage of UCLA Charges Thursday, December 29, 2011 1:44:24 PM LA TIMES FOLLOW UP: UCLA SAYS IT WILL FIGHT ŒOUTRAGEOUS‚ FELONY CHARGES IN FATAL LAB FIRE Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up C&EN: CHARGES BROUGHT IN UCLA RESEARCHER‚S DEATH Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, butyllithium, follow-up C&EN BLOG: MORE ON THE CHARGES IN THE SANGJI CASE Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up UCLA NEWSPAPER: UCLA PROFESSOR AND UC REGENTS CHARGED IN STAFF MEMBER'S DEATH AS A RESULT OF A LAB FIRE Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, injury, follow-up AP: CHARGES IN UCLA LAB DEATH FIRST OF ITS KIND IN US Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up NATURE NEWS BLOG: CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES AFTER RESEARCHER‚S DEATH Tags: us_CA, laboratory, explosion, death, butyllithium, follow-up FELONY CHARGES FILED AGAINST UC AND A UCLA CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR AFTER FATAL LABORATORY FIRE Tags: us_CA, laboratory, explosion, death, follow-up --------------------------------------------- LA TIMES FOLLOW UP: UCLA SAYS IT WILL FIGHT ŒOUTRAGEOUS‚ FELONY CHARGES IN FATAL LAB FIRE http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/ucla-says-it-will-defend-outrageous-felony-charges-in-fatal-lab-fire.html Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up The statute of limitations was about to run out this week when prosecutors filed felony charges in connection with a fatal 2008 laboratory fire at UCLA, surprising university officials and prompting an unusually strong response from them. Not only did they vow a vigorous defense of the "outrageous" charges against UC regents and chemistry professor Patrick Harran, but they also all but accused the Los Angeles County district attorney's office of sandbagging them since their last contact in October 2010. "It's gamesmanship. It's illogical and it's deeply frustrating to us," Kevin Reed, UCLA vice chancellor for legal affairs, said of charges that Harran and the regents willfully violated workplace safety standards, resulting in the death of staff research assistant Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji. Sangji, 23, was not wearing a protective lab coat when was severely burned in a lab fire on Dec. 29, 2008. She died 18 days later. Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman, would not respond directly to UCLA's contentions, but defended the filing Tuesday, two days before the three-year statute of limitations was to expire. "We carefully evaluated this case based on this evidence and concluded these were the appropriate charges," she said Wednesday. --------------------------------------------- C&EN: CHARGES BROUGHT IN UCLA RESEARCHER‚S DEATH http://cen.acs.org/articles/89/web/2011/12/Charges-Brought-UCLA-Researchers-Death.html? Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, butyllithium, follow-up The Los Angeles County District Attorney‚s Office filed charges against the University of California and UC Los Angeles chemistry professor Patrick Harran on Dec. 27, 2011, for felony violations of California labor laws in the death of a staff research assistant three years ago. Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji, 23, died on Jan. 16, 2009, from injuries sustained in a fire 18 days earlier in a UCLA chemistry laboratory. Working with tert-butyllithium, which ignites spontaneously in air, she was drawing the chemical from a bottle into a syringe when the plunger came out of the syringe barrel (C&EN, Aug. 3, 2009, page 29). Sangji was not wearing a lab coat, and the chemical splashed onto her clothes and set them on fire. Sangji was burned on her torso, arms, and hands. --------------------------------------------- C&EN BLOG: MORE ON THE CHARGES IN THE SANGJI CASE http://cenblog.org/the-safety-zone/ Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up Following up on yesterday‚s post about the charges brought against UCLA and Patrick Harran in Sheri Sangji‚s death, my story is now up online and includes a pdf of the court document from Tuesday. Safety Zone co-blogger Russ Phifer was interviewed for several news stories yesterday. Russ also appeared on a Southern California NPR program, along with UCLA‚s Kevin Reed and Loyola Law School‚s Laurie Levenson. You can listen to the discussion here. --------------------------------------------- UCLA NEWSPAPER: UCLA PROFESSOR AND UC REGENTS CHARGED IN STAFF MEMBER'S DEATH AS A RESULT OF A LAB FIRE http://www.dailybruin.com/index.php/blog/off_the_press/2011/12/ucla_professor_and_uc_regents_charged_in_staff_member039s_death_as_a_result_of_a_lab_fire Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, injury, follow-up The Los Angeles County district attorney‚s office filed felony charges Tuesday against the UC Board of Regents and UCLA chemistry Professor Patrick Harran in relation to the 2008 death of a UCLA staff research assistant from injuries received in a campus laboratory fire. Harran and the UC regents are charged with three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Harran, according to the Los Angeles Times. --------------------------------------------- AP: CHARGES IN UCLA LAB DEATH FIRST OF ITS KIND IN US http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/12/28/state/n150514S18.DTL Tags: us_CA, laboratory, fire, death, follow-up The unusual decision to bring criminal charges against the University of California, Los Angeles following the death of a staff research assistant could bring needed attention to safety issues at campus laboratories, two industry observers said Wednesday. The death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji three years ago has created awareness among universities and colleges about preventing similar incidents by improving safety in academic labs. However, the case my spur officials to re-examine their policies now that they could be charged with a crime. "The idea that someone could go to jail or be fined significantly is a new concept," said Russ Phifer, executive director of the National Registry of Certified Chemists and former head of the American Chemical Society's safety division. "I think the primary impact will be that universities and principal investigators will understand there is potential criminal liability." On Tuesday, prosecutors filed three felony counts of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards against UCLA regents and chemistry professor Patrick Harran. Sangji, 23, was burned over nearly half of her body when air-sensitive chemicals burst into flames and ignited her clothes at a UCLA lab in December 2008. She died 18 days later. Harran, 42, faces up to 4 1/2 years in prison if convicted. An arrest warrant was issued for Harran, who is out of town for the holidays. His attorney, Thomas O'Brien, said his client plans to surrender upon his return to Southern California. He declined further comment. UCLA could be fined about $4.5 million if found guilty of all counts. The university called the charges "outrageous" and it will mount a vigorous defense, according to a statement posted on its website. --------------------------------------------- NATURE NEWS BLOG: CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES AFTER RESEARCHER‚S DEATH http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/12/chemistry-professor-faces-criminal-charges-after-researcher‚s-death.html Tags: us_CA, laboratory, explosion, death, butyllithium, follow-up Three years after a young chemistry researcher died following a lab fire at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), her supervisor, the organic chemist Patrick Harran, and the University of California now both face criminal charges. Health and safety experts think that it is the first instance of criminal prosecution over an accident in a US academic laboratory. On 27 December, the Los Angeles District Attorney charged Harran and the regents of the UC system with three counts each of „willful violation of an occupational health and safety standard causing the death of an employee‰. [Felony filing, pdf]. An arrest warrant has been issued for Harran, whose lawyer told the LA Times that he will surrender to authorities. He faces up to 4.5 years in prison if convicted, an attorney spokesperson told the paper, while UCLA could be fined up to $1.5 million on each count. In a statement, UCLA said it „intends to mount a vigorous defense against the outrageous charges‰. ... The accident triggered calls to improve academia‚s safety standards not just at UCLA, but across the United States. But as Nature discussed in an article on laboratory safety after Yale undergraduate Michele Dufault died in April 2011, there‚s little evidence that Sangji‚s death has shifted the behaviour of bench scientists or laboratory heads, outside of UCLA. The LA District Attorney‚s legal action could shake up that attitude. „I think this is a game-changer. It will significantly affect how people think about their responsibilities now that it‚s clear there‚s the possibility of going to jail,‰ says Jim Kaufman, president of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick, Massachusetts. Concerns surrounding prosecution have been a powerful incentive for change in the United Kingdom, where around 25 years ago Sussex University, in Brighton, was prosecuted for negligence after an explosion in a chemistry laboratory shot a piece of metal into a student‚s abdomen. (The student later recovered). Tom Welton, a chemist at Imperial College London, told Nature that the episode had a profound effect on safety standards in Britain. UCLA‚s statement notes that an earlier investigation by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (which led to fines) found „no wilful violations on the part of UCLA‰. The university called the district attorney‚s decision to press charges yesterday „truly baffling‰; „the facts provide absolutely no basis for the appalling allegation of criminal conduct,‰ it said. UCLA would not comment beyond its statement. --------------------------------------------- FELONY CHARGES FILED AGAINST UC AND A UCLA CHEMISTRY PROFESSOR AFTER FATAL LABORATORY FIRE http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1228-ucla-death-20111228,0,7543387.story Tags: us_CA, laboratory, explosion, death, follow-up Felony charges have been filed against the University of California and a UCLA chemistry professor in connection with a laboratory fire that killed a staff research assistant three years ago. On Dec. 29, 2008, Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji, 23, was severely burned over nearly half of her body when air-sensitive chemicals burst into flames during an experiment and ignited her clothing. Sangji, who was not wearing a protective lab coat, died 18 days later. Her death raised questions about lab safety practices at UCLA and about Sangji's training and supervision by professor Patrick Harran, a prominent researcher who joined the faculty in July 2008. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged Harran and the UC regents with three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards, resulting in Sangji's death. Harran and UCLA are accused of failing to correct unsafe work conditions in a timely manner, to require clothing appropriate for the work being done and to provide proper chemical safety training. An arrest warrant was issued for Harran, 42, who faces up to 41/2 years in state prison, according to a district attorney's spokeswoman. Harran is out of town and will surrender to authorities when he returns, said his lawyer, Thomas O'Brien, who declined to comment further. UCLA could be fined up to $1.5 million on each of the three counts. In separate statements Tuesday, UCLA and the regents called the charges unwarranted. UCLA's statement blasted them as "outrageous" and "appalling." "This isn't justice," Kevin Reed, UCLA vice chancellor for legal affairs, said in an interview. "What happened in December 2008 was a tragedy, an unfathomable tragedy. It was not a crime." Sangji's family, led by her older sister Naveen, has been harshly critical of UCLA officials and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's investigations. Naveen Sangji said Tuesday that she hopes the criminal case goes to trial so her family "has the opportunity to speak to the court" about what happened to her sister. "As we have been saying all along, the filing of charges is the first step toward any kind of justice for what Harran and UCLA did to our family," she said. "It won't bring Sheri back, but we do hope this will help keep other young people safe and keep other families from being destroyed."
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