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Patrick Harran, UCLA Professor, Faces Possible 4-Plus Years For Fatal Lab Fire

Patrick Harran, UCLA Professor, Faces Possible 4-Plus Years For Fatal Lab Fire

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You're a UCLA chemistry professor and a fire breaks out in your lab.

A 23-year-old staff research assistant who's handling highly flammable liquid is burned and ultimately dies. Are you responsible for the workplace conditions that led to her death? An L.A. Superior Court judge today said let's find out:

Patrick Harran was ordered today to stand trial in the Dec. 29, 2008 fire that killed the assistant, Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji, 18 days later, the L.A. County District Attorney's office announced.

According to a D.A.'s statement:

The young woman was not wearing a protective lab coat when transferring highly flammable tert-Butyllithium, which spilled from a syringe and ignited. She died from her injuries 18 days after the fire, on Jan. 16, 2009.

Harran, 43, is charged with violating state occupational health and safety standards. If successfully convicted he could face more than four years behind bars.

He's due in court May 9 for arraignment.

Let that be a lesson to professors everywhere: Coats, goggles, gloves -- protect yourself and your people.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]