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Wisconsin Research Institute Seeks 13M For Damaged Supercomputer

A new lawsuit filed by a scientific research institute in Wisconsin seeks $13 million in damages from a transportation company it contends damaged an IBM supercomputer known as Bluefire during transport from Colorado to Wisconsin. Northridge National Laboratory, Inc. v. Schneider National, Inc., et al. (Case No.: 17-cv-1174)

Filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin on September 15, 2017, the lawsuit alleges that Bluefire, which uses a cryogenic cooling system to cool its processors, was damaged by Schneider National, Inc. (“Schneider”) while in transit from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado to the Northridge National Laboratory (“Northridge”) in Milwaukee in April 2015.

According to the lawsuit, the damage to Bluefire rendered the computer destroyed, apart from scrap value.  However, the complaint further contends that IBM no longer has “spare parts” for a supercomputer like Bluefire.  Through the lawsuit, Northridge seeks enough money to purchase a replacement for Bluefire which it approximates would cost $13 million – $4 million more than it paid for Bluefire just two years ago.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Northridge inquired about insurance for Bluefire prior to transport and was informed by Schneider that additional “insurance” was available for purchase without referencing any limitation of liability to Northridge.  Pursuant to the Court’s most recent ruling, Schneider’s written response to the complaint is currently due October 6, 2017.

Ryan Taylor is a partner at Tressler LLP in their commercial litigation practice and can be reached at rtaylor@tresslerllp.com or 312-627-4032.