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UCLA got off too easily in student's death, family says

June 22, 2009 |  7:48 am


State regulators performed a shoddy investigation and let UCLA off too lightly for violations stemming from a chemistry lab fire that killed a staff research assistant, the victim's family contends in papers filed with Cal-OSHA and the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board.

Sheri Sangji, 23, suffered severe burns over 43% of her body when an experiment with air-sensitive chemicals burst into flame Dec. 29 and ignited her clothing. Sangji, who was not wearing a protective lab coat, died 18 days later.

Last month, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health concluded that Sangji was improperly trained and not wearing protective clothing. Cal-OSHA cited UCLA for one regulatory and three "serious" violations, levying fines totaling $31,875.

UCLA paid the fines but appealed the violations and is seeking a stipulation from Cal-OSHA that it admits no fault in connection with the findings -- a legal move aimed at limiting the university's liability.

Read the full story here.

-- Kim Christensen

Photo: Sheri Sangji, 23, was working in a UCLA laboratory in December 2008 when she was fatally burned in a fire. She is shown at her Pomona College graduation in May 2008. Credit: Naveen Sangli