Janitor unplugs storage freezer in NYC lab to stop incessant beeping – but also destroys DECADES of $1million worth of scientific research
- An unnamed guard reportedly unplugged a freezer containing cell cultures, samples and other items to further analyze photosynthesis
- Sudden change in temperature ‘compromised, destroyed and rendered unrecoverable’ majority of specimens
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Indefinite Amount of Damages from Third-Party Contractor
A janitor – apparently tired of a constant beeping from a freezer – reportedly shut it down for some peace and quiet, but also destroyed $1 million worth of research at a New York lab.
The anonymous Daigle Cleaning Services caretaker was working at the Cogswell Building at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, on the night of September 17, 2020, when he said he heard ‘annoying alarms’ and walked into a electrical box open to turn it on. disabled.
He turned off the circuit breaker, a lawsuit filed in Rensselaer County Court, dropping temperatures inside the freezer from minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 25.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The majority of the specimens were compromised, destroyed and rendered unrecoverable, demolishing over 20 years of research,” the lawsuit states.
Damages are estimated to be at least $1 million, but the university is seeking an unspecified amount of money as part of the lawsuit against the janitor’s third-party contractor.
An anonymous Daigle Cleaning Services customer reportedly turned off a freezer containing lab samples in September 2020
The freezer stored cell cultures, samples, and other items at minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit in an effort to better understand photosynthesis and develop better solar panels. A laboratory at the university is seen here
According to the lawsuit, the freezer’s alarm was set off by a mechanical malfunction that prevented the device from maintaining a constant temperature.
Repairs to the freezer – which contained cell cultures, samples and other items to further analyze photosynthesis to improve the development of the solar panels – were scheduled for September 21.
Professor KV Lakshmi was the one leading the research
Meanwhile, the suit argued, a letter hanging on the freezer explaining the source of the alarm, with instructions on how to silence it.
“This freezer is beeping because it is being repaired,” the sign reportedly read in all caps. ‘Please do not move it or unplug it.
“No cleaning required in this area,” the letter continues. “You can press the alarm/test mute button for five to 10 seconds if you want to mute the sound.”
But the cleaner told public safety officers on campus that he thought he was tripping the circuit breaker.
“People’s behavior and negligence caused all of this,” RPI attorney Michael Ginsberg said. Albany Times Union. “Unfortunately, they have wiped out 25 years of research.”
Ginsberg added that it would cost around $1 million to replicate the work of Professor KV Lakshmi, professor of chemistry and chemical biology.
Daigle Cleaning Services, meanwhile, had a $1.4 million contract with the school to clean the facilities during the fall 2020 semester.