Wednesday, August 29th 2007

IBM Being Sued After $1.4m Server Falls off Forklift

Yet another crazy American lawsuit seems to be on the cards as federal contractor T.R. Systems Inc. attempts to sue IBM after a $1.4 million IBM server fell from a forklift truck during transit. According to T.R. Systems, the rear wheels of the forklift being used to move the server hit a raised surface, causing the server to rock slightly and break the pallet holding it, resulting in the server falling onto the curb and being damaged. In the court documents, T.R Systems said "The damages sustained by T.R. Systems were due to the poor workmanship and/or defective packaging design and methods used by IBM to pack the servers prior to shipping." However, IBM has already filed a motion with the court asking for the case to be dismissed claiming that the accident was down to the forklift truck’s driver, stating "No evidence exists that anything but [T.R. Systems'] negligence caused this accident." Now T.R Systems is now trying to claim more than $1.4 million in damages as it was forced to buy a new server after IBM refused to take the server back to its facility for testing.Source: COMPUTER WORLD
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43 Comments on IBM Being Sued After $1.4m Server Falls off Forklift

#1
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
I hate stupid lawsuites like this. YOUR forklift driver dropped the damn thing, it is YOUR fault. Simple as that.
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#2
jocksteeluk
why was the driver moving the server with the load raised 8 feet high? had the load been transported in the correct driving position the load wouldn't have fallen off.
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#3
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
"Upon arrival in Virginia, a [T.R. Systems] employee, James Dickerson, used their forklift to remove the crated server from the tractor trailer, which had parked 30 to 40 yards from [the] warehouse door," IBM said in its defense filing. "Mr. Dickerson removed the server from the back of the truck with the aid of [the] forklift and then moved the server across the parking lot to plaintiff's warehouse door."
Why wasn't the truck backed up to the warehouse doors ? Most warehouses are designed such that the truck can back up to the door and the forklift can drive right into the truck, thus eliminating any need to raise the load more than a couple of inches.

Something is odd here. I think IBM's going to win this one.
I am a little surprised that they refused to take a look at the server or repair it (unless they were already being blamed and TR wanted them to do it for free).
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#4
DaMulta
My stars went supernova
T.R. Systems said IBM refused to go to its warehouse to inspect the damaged server and also refused to take the server back to its facility to test and/or repair it. As a result, T.R. Systems said it was forced to buy a new server and is suing IBM to recover its costs.
I agree....

You don't know what they were for, and downtime can mean big $$$$.
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#5
jtleon
IBM Chose the poor quality pallet that broke...Not the customer

IBM must accept full responsibility. IBM is responsible for all packing materials, including the pallet.

IBM has no legal standing, if T.R. Systems is telling the truth. IBM must prove T.R. is lying to the court.

DaMulta is also right, IBM has demonstrated negligence towards this customer who has just blown a cool million on their hardware.

Now IBM is taking all the bad press "up the ars"!:nutkick:

Regards,
jtleon
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#6
Steevo
If they inspected the server and found no faults, it was put in, and started died and caused a loss of data.....
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#7
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
IBM has no legal standing, if T.R. Systems is telling the truth. IBM must prove T.R. is lying to the court.
Not true. IBM is the defendant. The burden of proof lies with T.R. Systems to prove IBM was negligent. (Innocent until proven guilty).
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#8
Casheti
Only in America..

"Oh I'm gonna sue McDonalds for making me fat"
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#9
jtleon
Hmm....Kreij might be right....however

by: Kreij
Not true. IBM is the defendant. The burden of proof lies with T.R. Systems to prove IBM was negligent. (Innocent until proven guilty).
T. R. merely needs to submit as evidence the broken pallet, and show the cause/nature of the break due to poor workmanship/construction materials. Also, it may be very clear to the court that IBM chose a pallet of insufficient design to protect a $1,000,000 product. T.R. may need to enlist the services of an expert witness to address the pallet design weaknesses.

IBM must prove (as the defendant) that said pallet workmanship and construction materials were structurally sound and said pallet design included the necessary factors of safety to be appropriate packaging for a $1,000,000 product.

Now if the pallet did not break, and IBM can prove so by re-enacting the incident with the same forklift, pallet, and curb, for the court, then they may have a substantive defense.

Note that the greatest burden of proof lies upon IBM, if T.R. properly structures their evidence.

It is quite ridiculous that IBM did not see fit to invest a little more in this customer to repair the server, rather than let the matter go to court. Has Corporate America become so pompous that the customer (i.e. corporate reputation) has no useful value to future business?

Regards,
jtleon
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#10
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
All IBM has to prove is that they use the standard packaging that is considered good enough for the job.

No pallet is designed to handle the strain of the load falling sideways because the forklift operator's poor driving, and no pallet or any packaging material is designed to handle that strain, and it shouldn't have to handle that type of strain.

The fact is, if the forklift operator had done his job correctly, and not ran over an uneven surface, the server would not have tipped over, and the pallet would not have broken. It is the forklift driver's responsibility to make sure he is unloading in a safe environment, he failed to do that, so it is his fault.

by: Kreij
Why wasn't the truck backed up to the warehouse doors ? Most warehouses are designed such that the truck can back up to the door and the forklift can drive right into the truck, thus eliminating any need to raise the load more than a couple of inches.

Something is odd here. I think IBM's going to win this one.
I am a little surprised that they refused to take a look at the server or repair it (unless they were already being blamed and TR wanted them to do it for free).
A lot of businesses don't have loading docks that the truck can back up to like that.

And my guess is that TR wanted them to do it for free since they seem to think it is IBM's fault that their driver dropped the load.
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#11
DaMulta
My stars went supernova
It's on who ever the driver worked for....I bet it wasnt a private contractor forklift driver.
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#12
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
My guess would be he works for TR, since it was at TR's warehouse.
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#13
magibeg
Well i don't know what know what the loading policies of TR or IBM are but i know that in shipping where i work as soon as the truck is stopped and opens its doors its contents are now our responsibility from that point on. It just sounds like a case where the forklift bumped into something, shifted the weight (the middle of the skid isn't as strong as near the outside edges) and the server probably just fell through. Not IBM's fault.
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#14
jtleon
Good points...Newtekie1...but did you consider...

by: newtekie1
All IBM has to prove is that they use the standard packaging that is considered good enough for the job.
Is defective packaging included as being "good enough"?

by: newtekie1
No pallet is designed to handle the strain of the load falling sideways because the forklift operator's poor driving, and no pallet or any packaging material is designed to handle that strain, and it shouldn't have to handle that type of strain.
Typical pallet construction has retention on both the top and bottom of the forks. Why did this pallet not stop the tip over as is typical? (btw, I have a current forklift operator certification and have seen many defective pallets)

by: newtekie1
The fact is, if the forklift operator had done his job correctly, and not ran over an uneven surface, the server would not have tipped over, and the pallet would not have broken. It is the forklift driver's responsibility to make sure he is unloading in a safe environment, he failed to do that, so it is his fault.
Be careful when using the "fact" word. Uneven surfaces cannot always be avoided, and you do not know if the tipping broke the pallet, or the pallet broke thereby allowing the tip over. Usual packaging with pallets uses high tensile strength bands that secure the object to the pallet - in many cases this banding is steel, such that even if the ?wooden? pallet did break, the steel banding would hold the load on the forks. Did IBM cut costs and not use typical banding???

by: newtekie1
A lot of businesses don't have loading docks that the truck can back up to like that. And my guess is that TR wanted them to do it for free since they seem to think it is IBM's fault that their driver dropped the load.
Fortunately, for all of our sakes, courts cannot operate on guesses, rather must have evidence. I'm sure that the fork truck operator was aware that he/she was moving very expensive equipment. Most disgruntled employees do not intend to do harm to major expense items - at risk of immediate termination. I'm sure that operator had to take a piss test immediately after the incident, as is normal policy.

In any event, IBM deserves the public scrutiny for allowing this issue to reach a courtroom.
Regards,
jtleon
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#15
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
You are correct about pallet construction, jt. But if IBM has shipped many of these servers with no incidents then TR will have to prove that the one they received was faulty.

The other question that is not eluded to in the article is whether or not the forklift was large enough for the item in question. Did the pallet break because it was not fully on the forks because it was so large ?

Inquiring minds want to know !! :D
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#16
jocksteeluk
if you read the source the item fell 8ft to the ground which to make sounds like the driver was transporting the goods raised and the higher the load the more off balanced the vehicle will be couple that with driving into the curb to me says driver error, so who ever employed the FLT driver has to bare the responsibility.
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#17
HAL7000
The server cabinets are packaged in sturdy crates. These crates are wooden boxes with a slots to allow it to be moved with a forklift. All one piece. We had 3 servers delivered and unloaded off the back of the truck, and into the server room. No mishaps.......their forklift driver screwed up big time. Didn't follow proper receiving/ transport protocol.
Unemployment line anyone?
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#18
Sh00t1st
after having worked for ups for about a year, i just have to say that this kind of shit is not uncommon, it must be about every month they drop a huge 100,000 dollar + dell blade server, the one i work at is in Austin where dell is so no wonder lol. all im saying is this shit isn't uncommon, especially with the way shippers usually do things, be they a small shipping division of ibm or a global bitch like ups he he. and by the way, we like to kick your shit at ups, so don't ship through them, any time someone packs a truck to full and we have to unload it we go at it with our legs :-D ie kicking the shit out of stuck boxes. I still remember this one huge blade server that weighed over 400 lbs, we sent that bitch to the trash compactor and insurance handled it, im wondering why did ibm not do the same, if the item doesnt exist the insurance companys pay for it :-D.
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#19
jtleon
Thanks HAL7000....Very good info.

by: HAL7000
The server cabinets are packaged in sturdy crates. These crates are wooden boxes with a slots to allow it to be moved with a forklift. All one piece. We had 3 servers delivered and unloaded off the back of the truck, and into the server room. No mishaps.......their forklift driver screwed up big time. Didn't follow proper receiving/ transport protocol.
Unemployment line anyone?
Indeed, as you describe, the pallet is integral to the crate design - an IBM responsibility. Most server cabinets are quite tall as well. (hmmm...what would a $1,000,000 IBM server look like?) Note that in the story, the fork truck had to travel about 40 yards with the load. I don't know many sober operators that would not drop the load down before traveling that distance - as a simple matter of visibility. Also, the 8 foot drop is most likely a tip over of a tall cabinet, such that the top corner of the cabinet tipped over 8 feet before striking the curb.

Apologies in advance to all for my persistence on this, I am unfortunately the Safety Director here at my day job. I have investigated too many accidents, and have developed an appetite for such effort.
Regards,
jtleon
Posted on Reply
#20
Sh00t1st
ohhh yeah and also, guys who are saying you just fucking drive up into the trucks with a forklift, all i have to say to that is the trucks cant handle that shit if its anything over 3,000 lbs, thats one reason ups doesnt ship on pallets and use forklifts to pick them up. trucks hold tens of thousands of lbs but not in a 4 foot wide by 6 feet long spot in the trailer, it just cant hold that shit without breaking something, now that being said im not saying they never use forklifts, they do on the roller trucks, only sometimes tho, and even than the forklift doesnt go into the truck, it stays at the edge while you roll the pallet out onto the forks.
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#21
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: jtleon
Is defective packaging included as being "good enough"?
Who says it was defective? How can you prove that it was defective? Because it broke while put under circumstances that it should have never been exposed to? That is like saying it was defective because the forklift operator set the palet on fire and it actually burned.

by: jtleon
Typical pallet construction has retention on both the top and bottom of the forks. Why did this pallet not stop the tip over as is typical? (btw, I have a current forklift operator certification and have seen many defective pallets)
That is very nice that you are forklift certified, is the test to get that certification hard, or is it still the same 10 question POS from when I took it?

by: jtleon
Be careful when using the "fact" word. Uneven surfaces cannot always be avoided, and you do not know if the tipping broke the pallet, or the pallet broke thereby allowing the tip over. Usual packaging with pallets uses high tensile strength bands that secure the object to the pallet - in many cases this banding is steel, such that even if the ?wooden? pallet did break, the steel banding would hold the load on the forks. Did IBM cut costs and not use typical banding???
TR themselves are claiming that forklift ran over an uneven surface and that cause the load to shift which caused the pallet to break and fall off the forks. Banding wouldn't have stopped this, it simply would have prevented the server from falling off the pallet, the pallet would have still fallen off the forks. And yes, usually uneven surfaces can always be avoided. You can always ask the truck driver to move if he has parked in a bad spot, and being a ex-forklift operator, I would refuse to unload things on an uneven surface for this specific reason. Any good forklift operator will refuse to unload on uneven surfaces, especially if they are unloading items worth $1.4M.

by: jtleon
Fortunately, for all of our sakes, courts cannot operate on guesses, rather must have evidence. I'm sure that the fork truck operator was aware that he/she was moving very expensive equipment. Most disgruntled employees do not intend to do harm to major expense items - at risk of immediate termination. I'm sure that operator had to take a piss test immediately after the incident, as is normal policy.
I'm sure he was and I'm sure it came back clean. I doubt it was an issue of the forklift operator intentially causing any harm, he made a mistake. The problem is that it was his mistake, and hence the mistake of the company that employeed him, not the company that shipped the item he dropped.

by: jtleon
In any event, IBM deserves the public scrutiny for allowing this issue to reach a courtroom.
Regards,
jtleon
Well that depends, if TR was being unreasonable about the situation then IBM should let it go to court.
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#22
KennyT772
Only reason they are suing IBM is the forklift driver doesn't have billions in cash and assets. Greedy bastards are going for the gold nothing more.
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#23
Sh00t1st
and guys, i work with forklifts every month at my other job, we use them to transport stage peices, which almost always way over 1/2 ton, there are 1/2 boxes 1 ton 2 ton and 4 ton, what we do with them is we load 2 "never two 4 tons at once" one on top of the other and than drive them about 100 feet up a ramp than another 100 feet to the trailer to be loaded on, and we do this about 50 times a night for each forklift driver, so dont tell me that a good forklift driver cant do that shit lol, thats insulting my uncle who got me the job and has been a forklift driver for 20 years.
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#24
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: jtleon
Indeed, as you describe, the pallet is integral to the crate design - an IBM responsibility. Most server cabinets are quite tall as well. (hmmm...what would a $1,000,000 IBM server look like?) Note that in the story, the fork truck had to travel about 40 yards with the load. I don't know many sober operators that would not drop the load down before traveling that distance - as a simple matter of visibility. Also, the 8 foot drop is most likely a tip over of a tall cabinet, such that the top corner of the cabinet tipped over 8 feet before striking the curb.

Apologies in advance to all for my persistence on this, I am unfortunately the Safety Director here at my day job. I have investigated too many accidents, and have developed an appetite for such effort.
Regards,
jtleon
I don't now many good operators that wouldn't ask for assistance in travelling that distance due to the visability issue, or do it in reverse looking out the back of the forklift(this seems to be the case since it claims he backed over the eneven ground causing the tip).

However, this raises a new issue, perhaps he had it raised so high so that he could see under it? I know a lot of rookie forklift operators tend to do this.
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#25
Sh00t1st
thats another thing i was gona say newtekie :-p my uncle always has me watch where he is going and guide him past things, why didnt ibm do the same, doesnt take a rocket scientist lol.
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