St. Petersburg, Fla. laptop maker Jabil Circuit Inc. was awarded $8.9 million in a lawsuit it had filed against a supplier of special hinge grease that destroyed the plastic in the Jabil computers. Reell Precision Manufacturing Corp. of St. Paul, Minn. supplied the grease to lubricate the hinges it manufactured for Jabil, which had a contract to make AN700 laptops for Epson Corp. When the machines left Jabil's plants they were fine, but engineers found they developed cracks around the hinges, often before they'd even been used by consumers. Jabil replaced the plastic in thousands of machines, only to have the cracks mysteriously reappear. Although another Reell client, KeyTronic Corp. of Spokane, Wash. had had the same experience with the killer grease two years earlier, Reell never told Jabil, and it took engineers there 18 months to figure out the cause of the problem. (St. Petersburg Times 29 Jul 98)
IT WASN'T ME!