Chemist Charged After Researcher’s Death

A laboratory head faces criminal charges after one of his researchers died in a lab fire in 2008.

By | January 3, 2012

Fir0002/Flagstaffotos" > Wikimedia Commons, Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, FIR0002/FLAGSTAFFOTOS

Three years ago, 23-year-old Sheharbano Sangji, a chemistry researcher in the lab of Patrick Harran at the University of California, Los Angeles, died after the t-butyl lithium she was drawing from a bottle burst into flames, igniting her clothes and causing third-degree burns on her body. Last week (December 27), Harran—as well as the regents of the UC system—were charged with three counts each of “willful violation of an occupational health and safety standard causing the death of an employee,” according to the felony filing. Experts believe that this represents the first case of criminal prosecution over an academic lab accident in the United States, Nature reported.

UCLA has already paid around $70,000 in fines as a result of the accident, and toughened its safety policy. If convicted on the current charges, the university could face up to $1.5 million in fines for each of the three counts, and Harran could be jailed for up to 4.5 years, an attorney spokesperson told the LA Times.

"I think this is a game-changer,” Jim Kaufman, president of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick, Massachusetts, told Nature. “It will significantly affect how people think about their responsibilities now that it’s clear there’s the possibility of going to jail.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: Shmazpro

Shmazpro

Posts: 1

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

January 3, 2012

Wow...

Popular Now

  1. Broad Wins CRISPR Patent Interference Case
    Daily News Broad Wins CRISPR Patent Interference Case

    The USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board has ruled in favor of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard retaining intellectual property rights covered by its patents for CRISPR gene-editing technology.

  2. Henrietta Lacks’s Family Seeks Compensation
  3. Humans Never Stopped Evolving
    Features Humans Never Stopped Evolving

    The emergence of blood abnormalities, an adult ability to digest milk, and changes in our physical appearance point to the continued evolution of the human race.

  4. Abundant Sequence Errors in Public Databases
Business Birmingham