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Subject: [IP] more on Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: Ip <ip@v2.listbox.com>
  • Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 16:44:32 -0500

Title: more on &nbsp;&nbsp;Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use

------ Forwarded Message
From: Bob Frankston <Bob2-0406@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 16:29:35 -0500
To: <dave@farber.net>, 'Ip' <ip@v2.listbox.com>
Subject: RE: [IP] Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use

This is truly frightening. It's even worse than the superstitious approach airlines take to PDAs.
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It's very hard to innovate when one is subject to the lottery of the legal system as in these cases. If society becomes risk-averse innovation become terrorism.
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It's one thing to bankrupt Dupont based on weird science applied to breast implants. It's another to start going after basic technology that we are still discovering.
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The small plane industry was decimated because of liability for designs done decades earlier by legal entities with only a tenuous connection to the later "owners".
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Legal liability has a tradition of looking for deep pockets and perhaps statistically it does serve society in reflecting societal cost back to the original manufacturers. In the classic example, if your lawnmower kicks out a rock and injuries someone the company can be liable. Initially companies were blasé about such risks so the system served a purpose but when it is applied to low probability events things become far more problematic.
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The cell phone example is frightening because it buys into so much technophobia. When I’m told to shut off my digital camera in an airplane because it might crash while taxing I get scared. Stopping to use a cell phone is not necessarily safer than driving and certainly increases the cost of doing business.
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It's going to get far far worse when software manufacturers find themselves liable for the consequence of the use of their programs. We insured against this for VisiCalc 25 years ago but ...
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I remember when I took a joint seminar with Harvard Law -- they were desperate for those with technical expertise but couldn't attract them. When those who are illiterate about technology manage technology and view risk as entirely preventable or, at least, they can assign liability.
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It doesn’t help that many companies are still indifferent to risks … such cases reinforce the perception that risk is entirely avoidable and that cost is never a factor.
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-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ip@v2.listbox.com [mailto:owner-ip@v2.listbox.com] On Behalf Of David Farber
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2005 09:54
To: Ip
Subject: [IP] Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use
&nbsp;
&nbsp;
------ Forwarded Message
From: Monty Solomon <monty@roscom.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 09:31:06 -0500
To: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
Subject: Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use
&nbsp;
Firms formulate guidelines for employee cellphone use
&nbsp;
By Joyce Pellino Crane, Globe Staff, 1/23/05
&nbsp;
Somewhere near Winslow, Maine, is a scenic view of China Lake where
Monsanto Co. salesman Robert Pierpont regularly makes client calls
from his cellphone - one of many locations at which he pauses along
his route.
&nbsp;
"I know all the scenic, beautiful views," he said. He should. While
Pierpont traverses 3,500 miles a month across New England and eastern
New York
selling animal health products to dairy farmers and
veterinarians, Monsanto says he cannot conduct business on his
cellphone unless his car is stopped.
&nbsp;
St. Louis-based Monsanto is one of a small but growing number of
companies publishing guidelines for cellphone use inside the office
and the car, as some high-profile liability cases catch the eye of
corporate America.
&nbsp;
"It's a hot liability topic," said Kathryn Lusby- Treber, executive
director of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety in Vienna,
Va.
"If [companies] don't have a policy in place, they should. The
company is certainly at risk. If they have an employee who's driving
for business and they're in a crash, the employer can be held
responsible for the crash."
&nbsp;
An April 2004 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource
Management, in Alexandria, Va., showed that of 379 responding
companies, 40 percent already had a cellphone policy in place and
another 12 percent expected to develop a written policy within six
months. But even more companies may be reconsidering their positions
after reading about a lawsuit against an employer involving an
employee's cellphone call inside an automobile.
&nbsp;
In October, the San Francisco law firm Cooley Godward settled a $30
million lawsuit in the death of 15- year-old Naeun Yoon, who was
struck and killed in 2000 on a busy highway outside Fairfax, Va.,
by one of its employees - a lawyer accused of making a business
call on her cellphone while driving. After serving a year in jail
and surrendering her law license, Jane Wagner was ordered to pay
$2 million in damages to Yoon's family by a circuit court jury in
Loudoun County
, Va. While the firm's insurance company paid $92,500,
according to its attorney, John McGavin of Fairfax, the firm was
not held liable.
&nbsp;
http://bostonworks.boston.com/globe/articles/012305_cell.html
&nbsp;
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