University pins $510M lawsuit on PeopleSoft

Ohio's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against PeopleSoft seeking $US510 million in damages over a problematic installation of the company's ERP and student administration applications at Cleveland State University.

Ohio's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against PeopleSoft seeking $US510 million in damages over a problematic installation of the company's ERP and student administration applications at Cleveland State University.

The lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 30 in an Ohio state court, claims that the student administration applications were "vaporware" when the project began in 1997 and that the module for managing financial aid remains unusable even now. Through the attorney general, Cleveland State is charging PeopleSoft with fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and four other counts.

The school is also seeking unspecified damages from Kaludis Consulting Group , a Washington-based firm that advised Cleveland State during the technology selection process and then temporarily managed the project.

Via email, a spokesman for Cleveland State declined to comment about the suit, citing a school policy against discussing pending litigation.

PeopleSoft officials also wouldn't discuss the case.

Cleveland State was the first user to install a full set of PeopleSoft's student administration applications. But in 1999, university officials blamed the software for problems in processing financial aid, enrolling transfer students and recording grades.

In the lawsuit, Cleveland State says PeopleSoft falsely assured it that the applications would run on the school's IBM mainframe. In addition, the initial version of the software that Cleveland State received was "woefully deficient," according to the suit.

Subsequent releases also didn't work as promised, the school claims, saying it had to install "hundreds of fixes" to try to get the software to function properly. Work on the project continued unsuccessfully into 2001, the suit says.

The fallout at Cleveland State allegedly included more than $5 million in lost revenue because of an inability to track and collect receivables, plus the need to make unexpected purchases of a second mainframe and a Sun Solaris server with an Oracle database.

James Lang, an attorney at Cleveland-based Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP who is handling the case for the attorney general, said Cleveland State eventually gave up on some of the PeopleSoft applications and decided "to go down another path." But Lang said he didn't have details about the technology now used for student administration.

Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Daly City, Californiaornia.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting, said failed ERP installations are often the result of implementation problems, not shortcomings in the software itself.

"But what's important when you see a lawsuit of this magnitude erupt into the public arena is that the customer relationship process between vendor and customer has broken down completely," Greenbaum said.

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