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In general I agree with you on this, going after people motivates them to cover up or obfuscate mistakes, or refuse to participate in investigations, and this generally leads to worse safety.

However, it seems notable that they couldn't find the one person who actually knew the details of this situation. I suppose that in that era people could just move to a new place an be extremely hard to track down, but that ability to 'move away' and be hard to track down could also have been used as an attempt to lead to a more beneficial settlement. If this anonymous programmer were to testify that 'management was aware' of potential problems in the software, but insisted on shipping it anyway, it is the difference between negligence and gross negligence. The potential punitive damages would be dramatically increased in the latter case, and it would be 'cheap' to pay someone to hide to avoid this.

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