The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) spent nearly $4.5 million in public funds on its defense of chemistry professor Patrick Harran against criminal charges arising from the 2009 death of research assistant Sheharbano “Sheri” Sangji, reports Kim Christensen in the Los Angeles Times. The 23-year-old was mortally injured in a fire in Harran’s lab. Close to 60 lawyers, paralegals, and others at the prominent law firms the university hired amassed more than 7700 billable hours working on the case, with one lawyer billing $792,000. Hourly rates reached $750.
“[UCLA] defended ourselves and our faculty member as was our right and obligation, using funds in a systemwide self-insurance program,” says a university statement quoted in the article.