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$2 Million Settlement to Men with Electrical Burns

Amount: $2,050,000
Court: Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Plaintiff’s Counsel: David M. Paris

Plaintiff 1 and Plaintiff 2 were carpenters working for a construction company which was the successful bidder to reconstruct a city-owned bridge. The city relocated underground 11 KV feeder lines overhead onto existing utility poles which ran directly over the bridge. The city designed and installed switches to disconnect the power over the bridge in anticipation of construction equipment being used. When a crane was delivered, the city refused to de-energize, insulate, and/or relocate the overhead lines. The crane cable made contact with the 11 KV line, resulting in electrical burns to plaintiffs who were holding the load attached to the crane cable. The crane manufacturer and lessor were sued for failing to utilize an “insulated link” at the end of the crane cable which would have prevented and/or substantially lessened plaintiffs’ injuries. The city was liable since the maintenance of a utility is a proprietary function, and the failure to temporarily de-energize was a ministerial task not involving high level decision making or discretion. The plaintiffs sustained electrical burns on both hands. The crane manufacturer contended that an “insulated link” would not have prevented the injury because they inevitably become contaminated and facilitate flash over. Both defendants contended that the sole and proximate cause of the accident was the conduct of the plaintiffs’ co-workers—the crane operator and foreman—who violated the OSHA requirement for working within 10 feet of energized wires.

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