Lawsuit Results in $109M Verdict Over Electrocution from Power Lines

A Pennsylvania jury has awarded $109 million in damages to the family of a woman who was electrocuted by power lines that fell on her outside of her home. 

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Carrie Goretzka, who died of electrocution in June 2009, in Irwin, Pennsylvania.

According to allegations raised at trial, rust from improper cleaning by the local power company caused the lines to fall on Goretzka as she was walking through her backyard to get her cell phone from the garage after seeing the trees behind her house on fire from an overheated line.

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Line workers were not properly trained to use a wire brush to clean the power lines to avoid the development of corrosion, according to claims raised. The corrosion allegedly caused the power lines to catch fire and then fall.

The power lines had failed twice before Goretzka’s death and her husband, Michael, had told the company he was concerned for his family’s safety. Goretzka’s two daughters, 4 and 2 at the time, were near where the wires fell and saw their mother electrocuted.

Goretzka suffered severe burns, covering 85% of her body and her left arm had to be amputated. She died three days later in the UPMC Mercy burn unit in Pittsburgh.

After deliberations of less than two hours, the jury determined that West Penn Power Co. was responsible for Goretzka’s electrocution death from the power lines. West Penn Power was a subsidiary of Allegheny Energy, which is now a part of First Energy Corp.


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