Premises Liability ­ Near Electrocution - $450,000

Injuries alleged: Near electrocution resulting in cardiac arrest
Court: Withheld
Amount of settlement: $450,000

Case Summary:
A truck owned by the defendant arrived at the home of a friend of the plaintiff, then a 20-year-old male, with a set of concrete stairs which were to be installed. The defendant's truck was equipped with a hydraulic lift, providing the means for moving the stairs from the defendant's truck to the home. The operator of the lift, the defendant's employee, controlled its movement with a remote control box attached to the lift with a long, rubber coated cable that permitted operation remote to the location of the truck.

During the operation of the lift, it came in contact with high voltage lines which ended up energizing the entirety of the crane, causing the operator to drop the control box. At that time, the operator yelled 'to shut the power switch off.' The plaintiff instinctively bent down and picked up the control box and as a result suffered severe electrocution injury, which knocked him to the ground and rendered him unconscious. Emergency rescue arrived within eight minutes, found the plaintiff to be pulseless, and initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was rushed to a local hospital where resuscitation efforts proved successful.

The plaintiff remained hospitalized approximately two weeks. While much of his hospitalization was critical, the plaintiff was discharged apparently with no permanent sequelae except for electrical burns on his forearm, hand, and trunk.

Plaintiff discovered that defendant had been found guilty in the local District Court for three separate offenses arising from the incident: operating equipment within 10 feet of an overhead electrical line of 750 volts or more; utilization of a hoist by an untrained person; and failure to equip the crane with proper grounding conductor.

The plaintiff was subsequently tested by a neuropsychologist, who concluded that he had suffered from 'diffuse brain dysfunction' as a result of his electrocution and subsequent anoxia caused by the cardiac arrest. Plaintiff's expert concluded that this dysfunction caused the plaintiff to suffer from cognitive, memory, and emotional difficulties. Plaintiff continues to work as a short-order cook as he did prior to the accident.