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BOFH: Lawsuit ahoy!
You can't sue us!
Episode 24 "Whew," the PFY says wiping the tears from his eyes as he steps into Mission Control. "I don't think I've laughed so much since you slapped an old scanner one top of our shredder and convinced on of the Bosses that it was a self-feeding photocopier."
"Yes," I nod. "Who could have known he'd slip in late at night to copy some share certificates? He went through half his portfolio before he wondered why no paper was coming out..."
"But then in the morning you convinced him it was a paper jam AND HE PUT THE REST IN!!!" the PFY weeps, shaking his head happily.
"Yes, I have to admit it was a triumph of stupidity..." I reply. "So what was so funny?"
"He shredded his shares!!" the PFY explains.
"Yes, yes, but what was so funny today that reminded you of that?"
"Oh that!" he gasps. "We're being sued!"
"WE are, or the company is?"
"The company of course!"
"BECAUSE," the Head of IT says, pushing into both the office and conversation, "the specification we provided for a server room build wasn't quite kosher."
"Not kosher?!" I cry, preparing to defend my good name.
"Yes, apparently a basement housing 10 Vax 11/780s isn't a commonplace thing any more."
"That was a joke, just delete it!" I sigh.
"And what about Thick-Wire Ethernet cabling TO THE DESKTOP?"
"That was different - that was a GOOD joke, but just delete that as well."
"They can't delete it because they presented it for tender and accepted a proposal."
"In a week!" the PFY chuckles, "without even reading the document!"
"Well no-one's going to be able to supply 10 Vaxes or that much thickwire cabling, so why don't they just retender?"
"On the strength of the tender acceptance someone HAS sourced the computers and cabling AND contracted some VMS specialists out of retirement to install them - and now that the company wants to pull the pin on the project they're suing them. As a result that they're suing us and WE, in turn, are suing YOU!" the Head of IT snaps, just as the Head of HR enters Mission Control to provide moral support.
"You can't sue us!" the PFY snaps.
"Yes we can. We can sue you for malpractice."
"You could try, but you'd fail," I reply.
"Why?" the Head of HR responds.
"Here's the hidden bonus," I respond. "You'll note that this company entered into a supply contract with another company but that our contract was solely with (as was pointed out to us) this company. And our contract specifically states that we're liable for damages to company property that result from our work, not other damages or damages to another company. So in effect this company is the liable party."
"Is he right?" the Boss asks the HR bloke.
"I'd have to look over the contract but I fear that he might be correct," the Head of HR burbles, ducking out.
... ten minutes later ...
"He's right, they aren't liable," the Head of HR says.
"Told you," I chuckle.
"...Under the original contract," the Head of HR says. "But under a revision you signed six months ago - to get a performance bonus - it only mentions damages to the company, and not just its property."
"So we're stuffed then?" the PFY says.
"I think so," the Head of HR smirks cheerfully.
"I'm not so sure," I say. "I don't recall signing any revision..."
"It's all here in black and white - and blue, where the signatures are..."
"Hmm. You don't mind if I take a copy for my solicitor?"
"I don't think so..."
"We'd get a copy during discovery anyway."
"Ok, I suppo..."
"Oh dear, there's been a paper jam in the photocopier," I gasp.
"So you've accidentally destroyed the only evidence of an agreement mentioning our liability?" the PFY asks.
"I'm afraid so," I sigh. "Bloody technology!"
"So we're in the clear?"
"It... would seem so," the Head of HR seethes.
"Well to show there's no hard feelings, here's a possible solution: Instead of being sued why not just approach the successful tenderer and offer to pay them for the Vaxes and cabling plus some dumping costs as well as paying off their Vax specialists for doing nothing. It won't involve solicitors which will mean it'll be about one quarter of the expense"
"I... Hmmm," the HR Head says looking to the Head of IT for agreement. "I suppose it's probably our only option."
. . .
"That was a sneaky trick," the PFY says, tapping the shredding scanner benevolently.
"Which bit, the shredding of our contract or tendering to supply 10 Vaxes, three miles of thickwire and a couple of VMS experts?"
"I... You didn't! ... Isn't that a little, well, venal?"
"So you're not interested in being one of the VMS experts then?"
"I... Well I didn't say that..."
"I didn't think so..." ®