Tech & society

Can we sue for badly-designed products?

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A woman who experienced pain in her wrist decided to sue Apple and IBM, rather than her own employer. She said that badly-designed keyboards are a hazard to her health, leading to RSI (repetitive stain injury). This broadcast is spoken in Arabic.

Below is a transcript of the audio file.

Jonar Nader: Another bizarre story I must tell you is this lady in the US who is going to sue Apple. Can you believe it?

Host: Yes, I was going to ask you about that. Why is that? Because of an RSI injury?

Jonar Nader: Now, normally people sue their employers and say “look I am having trouble” now this lady said to her employer “look I am getting RSI I need to slow down” so the employer said “okay, stop working on this machine” she then went to the employer and the employer gave her special privileges and the employer sacked her. So she instead of suing the employer she went and sued Apple and IBM and said you guys designed very bad keyboard, and she originally only wanted to sue them for $50 000 and she thought it would pass very quickly, little did she know that such a precedent would never be tolerated by Apple and IBM and the whole thing escalated to her suing for $1 000 000 and the whole court case went on for weeks.

Host: Eight weeks.

Jonar Nader: Exactly, but finally the whole thing was thrown out.

Host: So it was thrown out and she didn’t get anywhere with it?

Jonar Nader: Oh, well, she did make a bit of money because Apple lawyers made a mistake and settled outside of court, just before the jury dismissed it, so she did make a bit of undisclosed money and they wouldn’t tell anyone. Which reminds me, wouldn’t it be fun to hold a competition on radio to ask people what a great thing would be to sue on, for example, the steering wheel, I wonder if we can sue Ford or somebody, God bless them, for designing badly designed steering wheels, imagine the precedent for that.

Host: Should it give you a sore wrist. So what did she get in the end?

Jonar Nader: Just a few thousand dollars.

Host: Oh is that all, to cover court costs. I have been speaking to Jonar Nader who is the president of the Australian Information Technology Society and also author of Prentice Hall’s Illustrated Dictionary of Computing. Thanks Jonar.

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