Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Can a weather bureau be sued?

Sulpicio Lines has filed suit against PAGASA for erroneous weather forecast and for ""gross negligence and incompetence" in predicting the typhoon's path.

I think this is an important suit and whatever judgement the courts may give, it will give important precedent on how legally liable are providers of scientific services. PAGASA is in the business of providing these meteorological services.

The Palace has given its full support to PAGASA.

I think the lawyers on both sides will have to deal with the word "predict". The legal profession makes money on the "meaning of words" as one SS lawyer once said it in his defence in the DeNazification trials after World War II.

This leads us with some observations. Scientists can only predict to a level of confidence and by convention that is within 5% of the real value. The lawyers will have to argue that PAGASA was within or outside the bounds of this 5%.

Perhaps the case will open the government's and the public's eyes on the importance and role of science in society.

But as one student told me, the question may be asked, Are fortune tellers and feng shui practitioners liable for false predictions?

Science and non-science practitioners. What are the legal consequences of their services?


DJB Rizalist said...

Sulpicio Lines is doing the right thing from a defensive point of view. Everyone is piling on them, when surely we are ALL at fault, one way or the other. I think they realized the govt and the Press were doing a Meralco on them, so they've decided to push back!

blackshama said...

Any idiot who has experience with lawyers would realize that if a suit is in the courts, Sulpicio Lines cannot pay damages until the suit has been decided. And given how the courts run in this country, that will be when the Sibuyan Sea has dried up!

Poor defenseless PAGASA was the likely target. But the PCG is really the best target for the suit.