November 21, 2013 / 8:45 PM / in 4 years

For whom the bell cracks; Harvard sues over defective clapper

BOSTON (Reuters) - Harvard University has sued an Ohio company, saying a defective bell clapper sold by the company broke an 81-year-old, 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) bell dedicated to the memory of its students who died in World War I.

The 377-year-old Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sued Commercial Music Service Co of Lancaster, Ohio, contending that a new clapper it installed in 2011 produced a two-foot crack that changed the deep, resonant tone of the bell, creating a louder and harsher sound.

In papers filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston, Harvard said the company, formerly called Chime Master, had started servicing the bell in 2006 and persuaded the university to buy a new, custom-made clapper even though it knew there was a spare.

“Harvard has incurred costs in determining the cause of the crack in the Memorial Church Bell and will incur great expense for its replacement,” the university said in court papers. The mouth of the bell measures 5 feet across.

An attorney for Commercial Music Service, John Jarosak, declined to comment on Thursday.

The suit, which charges negligence and breach of warranty, seeks unspecified money damages.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson

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