If a computer consultant messes up your website, can you sue him or her? It will be difficult to do so in Minnesota, it appears.
In a case that hasn’t gotten much attention, a federal judge in Minnesota ruled this month that state law does not provide a cause of action for computer-consultant “malpractice.” The judge’s reasoning was that computer consultants are not “professionals” on par with lawyers, doctors, and others who have a “heightened standard of care” and therefore can get sued for malpractice.
The case involved a Michigan law firm that hired Thompson-Reuters’ Minnesota-based West Publishing arm to develop and design a website. Something went wrong, and hundreds of emails did not end up getting forwarded. The law firm claimed that negligence caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business.
But Judge John Tunheim ruled that even if that was true, Minnesota—like Wisconsin and a few others states—did not provide a cause of action for computer-consultant “malpractice.”
I am not sure I agree with such rulings. People hire web designers and other computer consultants because they do not know how to work the web themselves. Such “consultants” do, in fact, have specialized knowledge, and arguably should be held to heightened standards. Stay tuned as the law evolves on this one …