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Rehab for (recovering) academics.
Why aren't professors and universities liable for the death of students? 
7th-Aug-2014 03:54 pm
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

A recent article in Chemistry World reminded me of an earlier blog post about the death of the student Sheri Shangji in a chemistry laboratory. The blog post describes that basically, if a student is killed in a university laboratory, neither the professor concerned nor the university are liable to any significance. Ignoring an example such as the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, it seems incredulous that universities are not liable (as other entities throughout the private sector )for the safety of students (also echoed by other departments elsewhere, at least according to another blog post. Is anyone aware of a similar case elsewhere, e.g. within EU and if so, how does European state and EU laws compare?

7th-Aug-2014 04:30 pm (UTC)
Well, as this article makes more clear: http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/web/2014/06/Patrick-Harran-L-District-Attorney.html the professor was held liable - it was the charges against the University that was dropped. There is a great point of contention if what the punishment was against the professor was actually just, though.

There is a certain amount of logic in the charges being dropped against the University *if* (and I don't know the details) the University could prove that they had procedures in place that would have prevented the accident and they were not be followed. As the supervisory PI, the professor would have been responsible, at all times, for making sure any campus procedures were being followed in his own labs.
7th-Aug-2014 04:55 pm (UTC)
I was active in the union when this happened at UCLA. As you can see in the linked article, the charges against the University were dropped in a settlement, not because the charges were tried and found meritless. Had those cases gone to trial I have the feeling there might have been different outcomes. Which is why UC (and all universities) employs a flotilla of lawyers on retainer.
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