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Oracle sues partner after multiple break-ins

Third time's the charm for hapless remanufacturer

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Oracle has sued a remanufacturing partner for contract violations and losses after a warehouse operated by that unfortunate company was robbed of Oracle equipment not once, not twice, but three times.

There are limits, it would appear, to Oracle's patience and forbearance.

The target of Oracle's wrath is Multis, Limited, of Union City, California, a division of the Multis Group of Galway, Ireland.

In a suit filed last week in the Northern California branch of the US District Court, Oracle alleges that Multis "breached the parties' contract, was negligent, and otherwise violated its obligations under common law."

A reading of the complaint, filed November 9, makes it appear that Oracle may have a rather solid case.

In January 2007 — back when Oracle was Oracle and Sun Microsystems was Sun Microsystems — Multis was contracted by Sun to remanufacture used Sun equipment for what the Multis Group describes as "the second-use market."

In that contract is a provision that "[Multis] shall be responsible for any loss or damage to products or inventory due to [Multis]'s failure to properly preserve, protect, package, handle and ship any product or inventory."

It's failing to live up to that "protect" diktat that seems to have been Multis' downfall.

The relationship, however, apparently had its sunny days. On the Multis website is a cheery quote from Sun's director of "Classic Remanufacturing", Jean Marc Chialkowski, who said: "Multis has ... acted as a real team member to help Sun achieving its stated business objectives. We look forward to continuing to rely on their professionalism to expand our business."

That trust in Multis' professionalism began to break down "on or about July 5, 2009," according to court documents, when thieves broke a window at a Multis warehouse and made off with 26 Sun disk drives and four "CPU modules."

After an investigation by a security firm of their property, "Multis undertook to make certain improvments to its existing security measures" — which, apparently, weren't completed in time for burglary number two, on April 25, 2010.

On that date, thieves again broke through a window, used wire cutters to clip open a cage where Oracle inventory was stored, and made off with "approximately 1,452 memory modules" worth "no less than $61,498."

A further investigation showed that Multis had installed security film on the window that was originally broken, but not on other windows, including the one that the thieves broke on April 25.

Multis admitted to Oracle, the complaint reports, that this was "an oversight."

The security consultants then advised, and Oracle required, a broad range of security upgrades, including CCTV camera adjustments, beefed-up inventory cages, finishing that security-film window job, and "consideration of steel bars for additional security at window openings."

On May 23 of this year, the thieves were back. This time they went through the same window as they did in April. The complaint explains: "Although security film had been installed, Multis had not installed iron bars or taken other steps to secure the stripping that held the windows in place. The perpetrators simply removed the stripping and then the window to gain entry.

This time out, the perps took "approximately 4,876 memory modules" worth "no less than $267,244."

After this third theft, Oracle conducted another security review of the warehouse, and determined that — in their view, at least — Multis hadn't followed the recommendations made after the April break-in, and was in violation of its obligations under their contract with Oracle.

And so the lawsuit for breach of contract and negligence. Oracle has asked the court for $328,742 in damages — with interest — plus legal fees and "such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper." ®

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