A jury has awarded $109 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a power line that fell in her back yard. The woman burned for 20 minutes as her family watched, helplessly, waiting for the power company, West Penn Power Co., to turn off the electricity.
The accident occurred in June 2009, but the jury believed that West Penn ignored appropriate safety practices for years prior to the fatal incident, even though the victim’s husband had reported concerns about the power lines in his backyard.
In addition to ignoring the concerns of the victim’s husband, evidence at trial showed that the power company did not train its employees properly to prevent rust on spliced power lines like those that caused the fatal accident. Rust can cause power lines to overheat and fail, which is what happened in this tragic incident.
On the morning of the accident, the power lines had overheated, causing a tree in the victim’s back yard to ignite. The victim was outside calling West Penn for help when the defective line fell on her, shocking her repeatedly as her mother-in-law and four-and-two-year-old daughters watched, unable to save her. She suffered several amputations over a torturous three day hospital stay before finally succumbing to her injuries. The personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin hope the settlement her family received will prevent future tragedies by deterring other power companies from similarly reckless behavior.