West Penn Power Co. has agreed to dismiss its appeal of a $109 million verdict in the death of Mrs. Carrie Goretzka, who was fatally burned by a falling power line in front of her two young daughters. The company will pay $105 million to settle the case. It will also inspect its lines for the kind of dangerous splices that caused the deadly line failure in 2009. As previously reported, an Allegheny County jury in December found West Penn workers had failed to properly splice a power line over the backyard causing it to fall on the woman while her daughters and mother-in-law looked on helplessly.
The settlement of the wrongful death case came a week after West Penn settled a related enforcement action by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). That agreement includes an $86,000 fine and requires West Penn to retrain its workers about how to splice power lines and to inspect any current splices for potential problems. The PUC in June accused West Penn of not properly maintaining the Goretzka power line, and others similarly spliced, but that happened only after the law firm representing the Goretzka family turned over evidence uncovered while investigating the Goretzka case. Shanin Spector, a lawyer who is with the Philadelphia firm Kline & Spector, represented the family. He did a very good job for them in this most important case.
Sources: Joe Mandek with Associated Press and Claims Journal
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