Nice Try, but You Can’t Blame the Calculator

A few days ago, an Oklahoma judge acknowledged that he was three decimal places off when he originally calculated the amount Johnson & Johnson should pay for its role in the state’s opioids crisis.

The mistake came when he was assessing various costs to the state to deal with addiction and prevention issues stemming from opioids. In his August order, the judge listed the yearly price to train Oklahoma birthing hospitals to evaluate infants with opioids in their systems at $107,683,000.

The correct amount should have been $107,683.

How can someone be so far off, by a factor of 1,000?!

Here’s how the judge explained it: “That will be the last time I use that calculator.”

Really? Blaming the calculator?

I can see transposing a couple of numbers, but adding three extra zeroes?

That’s not a calculator mistake – that’s human error.

We all mistakes. The important thing is to take responsibility for it.

And to not blame someone, or something, else.

It’s a good thing that accountants for J&J’s lawyers caught the mistake. (No surprise that the accountants were the heroes here 🙂 )

But it’s a mistake that a 12-year old could have caught.

Maybe basic math should be a required course in law school.


8 thoughts on “Nice Try, but You Can’t Blame the Calculator

  1. I would not completely fault the judge, though… Have you ever used a calculator that “fixes” decimal places? One of my co-workers uses one, and they always have more decimal places in display. The reason, I could not comprehend, but yeah, it threw me off for a bit when I looked at the result, had I not caught the zero that was in the bottom of the LCD.

    Good thing the accountant got an eagle eye. 😀


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