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Archive for April, 2012

Hadley v. Baxendale

April 14th, 2012 Comments off

A recent news article in the San Diego Union-Tribune mentioned a report on the cause of the generator problems at the local nuke plants (San Onofre). It appears that when the generators were replaced a couple of years ago, they were redesigned to increase output. Additional steam tubes were added and a vibration damper was removed to make room for them. It seems that the result is damage and excess wear to the steam tubes. Apparently, the “pimp my nuke” approach is not the best idea for maintenance on a power plant that is critical to the region’s power, and failure of which could result in a catastrophic environmental disaster in a densely populated region.

If this report is confirmed then the result is undoubtedly a very expensive re-design of the re-design and a period of years before new or modified generators are back in service. The issue will be identifying who made the mistake. The real fun will be in determining the responsibility for the enormous loss of profit from the plant sitting idle for years. This brings us back to the 19th century English case of Hadley v. Baxendale. In Hadley, defendants were responsible for the delay in the delivery of repair parts to plaintiff’s steam engine and this cause plaintiff severe economic harm. Were defendants responsible for the lost profits? Not in Hadley, because the defendants could not reasonably anticipate this sort of loss.

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Free Speech In The Workplace

April 11th, 2012 Comments off

An interesting case in the local newspaper today. A Poway school district math teacher had various religious slogans on large banners prominently displayed in his classroom. Eventually the school district asked him to remove the slogans and he filed suit to keep the posters, based on the claim of a 1st Amendment right to free speech. The 9th Circuit ruled that the school district had the right to restrict speech in the workplace and the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to review the case.

It is well-established that an employer can restrict the speech of a government employee when it is “official speech” in connection with job duties. The school district was well within its rights to restrict the poster displayed in the classroom. In fact, based on the Establishment Clause in the 1st Amendment, they were required to do so in this case.

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