Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Washington v. Louisiana Power and Light Co. case brief

Washington v. Louisiana Power and Light Co. case brief summary
555 So. 2d 1350

CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellants, the adult children of a man who was electrocuted, sought review of a judgment of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Parish of Orleans (Louisiana), which set aside a trial court jury award in favor of the adult children in their wrongful death lawsuit.

CASE FACTS
After decedent was electrocuted when he attempted to move a citizens band radio antenna under an uninsulated electrical wire, his adult children brought a wrongful death suit against the electric company, an insurer, and others.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The trial court rendered judgment in the adult children's favor but the court of appeal set aside the jury award, holding that the electric company had not breached any duty owed to the decedent. The adult children sought further review.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal because it found that the jury verdict for the adult children was manifestly erroneous. 
  • The court noted that although the gravity of the injury in a power line accident was usually severe, under the circumstances the magnitude of the risk was not great because the possibility that the radio antenna would be brought into contact with the power line was very slight.
  • The court held that because decedent was aware of the danger and chose to ignore it, a warning by the power company would not have averted the accident. 
  • The burden of the safety measures the company might have taken to avoid the accident outweighed the magnitude of the risk.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the court of appeal's judgment setting aside the jury award in favor of the adult children.

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