Saturday, February 9, 2013

Defective Safety Harness Utility Pole Lawsuit Pennsylvania

Safe harness systems are important for the safety of Pennsylvania tree cutters and power lineman.  A defective product can lead to serious injuries for these types of injuries.  The matter of Nertravich v. PPL electric handled beautifully by plaintiff attorneys JB Dilsheimer, Joel Rosen and Mat Stone was just such a product liability case.

 Vincent P. Nertavich, Jr. was a painter for QSC Painting, who contracted with PPL Electric Utilities Corporation to paint electric transmission poles. Thomas & Betts Corporation manufactured and sold the transmission poles as well as ladders used to work on the poles. On Sept. 23, 2007, Nertavich fell 40 feet to the ground while descending a transmission pole. Nertavich was not provided a personal fall arrest system (PFAS), and the poles were manufactured without a means for attachment of a PFAS. Instead, Nertavich was using a web lanyard that was attached to the pole or ladder, and fell while trying to adjust the lanyard on a ladder. Nertavich suffered serious and severe injuries including a fractured back, broken knee, broken hip, broken ankle, anxiety and depression.

Nertavich filed suit against PPL, T&B, and other affiliated parties in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, PA. Nertavich filed claims of negligence, strict products liability, and breach of warranty against T&B. Nertavich alleged T&B sold a defective, unreasonably dangerous transmission pole that failed to meet industry standards, and defective ladders that failed to perform as intended and did not meet industry standards. Nertavich alleged T&B was strictly liable for all damages, and breached the implied and/or actual warranty that the pole and ladders were fit for use, adequately labeled, and in conformance with promises made in its accompanying documentation.

Nertavich also filed a claim of negligence against PPL, alleging PPL should have realized the unreasonable risk of harm of painting without a PFAS or attachment point and failed to exercise reasonable care to protect Nertavich from possible dangers. Nertavich alleged PPL created an unreasonably dangerous work site which was not obvious to Nertavich but was obvious to PPL. Nertavich sought damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, medical expenses, scarring and disfigurement, interest, and costs.

Nertavich's claims against PPL and T&B went to trial on Feb. 24, 2012, before Judge Mark L. Bernstein. On March 9, 2012, the jury rendered a mixed verdict. The jury found the T&B ladder was not defective or a substantial factor in causing Nertavich's injuries. The jury also found both PPL and Nertavich were negligent, and their negligence was a substantial factor in causing Nertavich's injuries. PPL was found to be 51% negligent, and Nertavich was found to be 49% negligent. The jury awarded $ 4,613,150.00 in damages. The award was subsequently adjusted by the Court to account for comparative fault, with Nertavich's final award totaling $ 2,352,706.50.

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