Italian Court Convicts 7 Scientists For Failing To Predict Earthquake

01 Dec

October 22, 2012 Fox News.Com


Locator map of the province of L'Aquila, in Italy.


I was shocked when I read this article while cruising all the news stories on my IPAD at 2am.  I had to re-read it first thing in the morning to make sure I had not dreamed up this crazy story.  Could this be a new trend in litigation that could happen to us here in the United States?  This was a criminal charge made against the scientists but what could stop the victims (especially here) in filing civil suits against those who did not make the right predictions.  If you think this is “crazy” read on……


L’AQUILA, Italy – Defying assertions that earthquakes cannot be predicted, an Italian court convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter Monday for failing to adequately warn residents before a temblor struck central Italy in 2009 and killed more than 300 people.


The court in L’Aquila Monday evening handed down six-year-prison sentences to the defendants, members of a national “Great Risks Commission.” The defendants were accused in the indictment of giving “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” about whether small tremors felt by L’Aquila residents in the weeks and months before the April 6, 2009, quake should have constituted grounds for a quake warning. Prosecutors had sought convictions and four-year sentences during the trial. They argued in court that the L’Aquila disaster was tantamount to “monumental negligence,” and cited the devastation wrought in the southern United States in 2005 when levees failed to protect the city of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.


Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully.


“Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake,” reads a statement posted on the USGS website. “They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future.” The verdict also calls for damage payments that could add up to hundreds of thousands of euros, Science magazine wrote.


The article specifically references “negligence” or “monumental negligence”.  It also refers to the “damage payments” that are due from the scientists.  And, the article refers to Hurricane Katrina with the levees failing—putting that loss in the same category of their earthquake.  Are they pointing a finger that we, too, should be filing criminal cases against—who…..And seeking damages from people who were negligent in warning about the potential of the levee failing?  This article has even more impact as we are living through the effects of Hurricane Sandy and the unexpected and incomprehensible damage it has caused.


Let’s hope the Italian approach to their disaster does not set any trends in our country.


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