A janitor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute became frustrated with the "annoying alarms" from a laboratory freezer so he reset the circuit breakers in an attempt to fix the issue. Unfortunately, he inadvertently turned the power off. The freezer thawed, ruining samples from 20 years of biochemical research. Now, the university has filed a $1 million lawsuit. Fortunately, they're not suing the janitor but rather Daigle Cleaning Systems, the company with whom the janitor was a contractor.
"We don't believe there was any nefarious conduct (on the) part of the cleaning company," Michael Ginsberg, the attorney for Rensselaer. "This was a result of human error. The core of the case, however, is that the cleaning company failed to adequately train their personnel. A cleaner should be trained to not attempt to remedy an electrical issue."
Apparently, the lab researchers were aware of the issue triggering the alarms but determined that the samples would be fine until repairs could be completed.
A warning was posted on the freezer, according to the court filing.
"THIS FREEZER IS BEEPING AS IT IS UNDER REPAIR. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE OR UNPLUG IT. NO CLEANING REQUIRED IN THIS AREA. YOU CAN PRESS THE ALARM/TEST MUTE BUTTON FOR 5-10 SECONDS IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MUTE THE SOUND," the warning read, according to the suit.