SJSU Professor Awarded $750,000 For Einstein Papers Lost In Lick Fire

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Lick wildfire, Henry W. Coe State Park, Santa Clara County, Stanislaus County

A wildfire burns in Henry W. Coe State Park in September 2007. (CBS)

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SAN JOSE (KCBS)— A professor at San Jose State University is being awarded $750,000 for the loss of papers written by Albert Einstein that were destroyed in the 2007 Lick wildfire.

The Lick Wildfire was one of the largest in Santa Clara County covering more than 47,000 acres, mostly in the Henry Coe State Park.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

One of the outbuildings destroyed contained a collection of papers written by the famous physicist. The papers’ owner was San Jose State University chemistry professor Dan Straus. Straus then sued the woman who accidentally started the fire and her entire family after claiming they all knew about the illegal burn barrel on their property.

On Tuesday a jury believed that argument and ordered the Pavese family to pay damages.

The family’s attorney told the San Jose Mercury news he plans to appeal on grounds the award is excessive.

Professor Straus has said he keeps his one remaining Einstein artifact in a bank vault.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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