A Janitor's Well-intentioned Act Results in the Destruction of Over 20 Years of Research at a University in NY

Lawsuit blames employer for inadequate training.
A Janitor's Well-intentioned Act Results in the Destruction of Over 20 Years of Research at a University in NY

NEW YORK: In a stunning turn of events, a janitor employed by Daigle Cleaning Systems Inc. at a private university in New York inadvertently caused the destruction of more than 20 years' worth of research. According to a lawsuit filed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the janitor's actions resulted in irreparable damage to valuable cell cultures and samples that were stored in a freezer requiring a constant temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius. The university is now seeking $1 million in damages and legal fees from the cleaning company, holding them responsible for the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that the janitor, disturbed by repeated alarms emanating from the freezer in September 2020, decided to take matters into his own hands. Unaware of the critical nature of the research stored within, he disconnected the freezer from its electrical supply, hoping to silence the annoying alarms. However, this action caused the temperature inside the freezer to rise significantly, reaching minus 32 degrees Celsius. Even a minor fluctuation in temperature, as little as three degrees, could have catastrophic consequences for the sensitive specimens.

Upon discovering the alarming rise in temperature, KV Lakshmi, a professor at the institute, and her team swiftly intervened. They immediately contacted the necessary experts to rectify the situation and put up warning notices to prevent further mishaps. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the majority of the specimens were irreparably compromised and destroyed, rendering years of painstaking research completely unsalvageable.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute places the blame squarely on Daigle Cleaning Systems Inc., alleging that the cleaning company failed in its duty to adequately train and supervise its janitorial staff. The university argues that the company's negligent, careless, and reckless oversight led to the damage of invaluable cell cultures, samples, and research. Michael Ginsberg, the institute's attorney, emphasizes that while the janitor's actions were a result of human error, the crux of the case lies in the cleaning company's failure to provide proper training, particularly in dealing with electrical issues.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of comprehensive training and supervision in professional settings, where even seemingly innocuous actions can have severe and irreversible consequences. The destruction of the research not only represents a significant setback for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute but also highlights the broader significance of safeguarding scientific endeavors and the need for meticulous attention to detail.

"Defendant, by and through its negligent, careless, and/or reckless supervision and control of [the janitor], caused damage to certain cell cultures, samples, and/or research in the Lab," said the lawsuit filed by the university.

Rensselaer Institute's attorney, Michael Ginsberg said that the janitor's conduct 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," he added.

In the ensuing lawsuit, the university seeks compensation of $1 million, along with legal fees, as they hold Daigle Cleaning Systems Inc. accountable for the loss of invaluable research. The case raises critical questions about the responsibilities of employers in ensuring adequate training and oversight for their employees, particularly in environments where valuable assets and sensitive research are at stake.


Top Headlines

No stories found.
Sentinel Assam