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>>At the risk of sounding naive, I'm suggesting that in developing a
business case or in defending the importance of proper records management,
that RM professionals and the RM industry should not be considering smoking
guns, and that ethically, a company stand by the business decisions it has
made and documented, even if those decisions prove to be costly in court.<<

Rick,

Consider this scenario:

I am a low level engineer sitting in a meeting discussing the design of a
new pipeline.  Last night I had a fight with my wife who wants to build unto
the house to put in an indoor lap pool, in case she wants to excercise.  We
just completed a major remodeling project a the cost of several thousand
dollars and her idea would require tearing out everything that was done and
starting over.

As I sit in the meeting, I am doodling on my agenda thinking about what I
think of her idea.  I write across the agenda, "This is stupid".

Later, back at my desk, I file the agenda away in a project file.  Several
years later I retire, the file is stored as part of a contract file.

Twenty years later, there is an accident at the crossing we were discussing
during the meeting.  During discovery, my agenda was found.  The plaintiffs
in the case use the memo to say that the crossing was unsafe.  After all,
our own engineers admitted had said during the meeting, "this is stupid."

The company attorneys ask me to testify why I put the comment on the agenda.
My memory is good, but short.  I have no idea.

Now my question to you?

1.) Was the document a smoking gun?
2.) Should the company be held accountable for my comments?
3.) Would have disposition of the record in accordance with a retention
schedule years before have been unethical?
4.) How can a company prevent what happened?

Just a few thoughts on how a smoking gun can cost a real company lots of
money even if they did nothing wrong.

Bill Roach, CRM
EDMS Coordinator
701-328-3589
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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