Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
A company which maintains and employs high power lines is required to exercise the utmost care to reduce hazards to life as far as practicable. Pursuant to this duty, a power company has an obligation to make reasonable inspections of wires and other instrumentalities in order to discover and remedy hazards and defects. Consequently, a company will be considered to have constructive knowledge of an electrical hazard which has existed for a period of time which would reasonably permit discovery had the company adequately performed its duties.
Plaintiff, Giovanni Levi, an oil field roustabout-pumper for Amoco Oil Company, sustained near fatal permanently disabling injuries when the erected mast of a paraffin removal truck rig upon which he was working came in contact or close proximity with an uninsulated 14,400-volt electric distribution line being operated by Southwest Louisiana Electric Membership Cooperative (Slemco). Plaintiff filed suit against his SLEMCO and SLEMCO’s insurer. The jury found that SLEMCO’s conduct did not fall below the reasonable standard of care. The trial court denied plaintiff's motions for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial. Plaintiff appealed, and the court of appeal affirmed. Plaintiff sought review of the decision.
Did the conduct of the company in operating an uninsulated 14,400-volt electric distribution line constitute negligence?
The court reversed and remanded to the appellate court, stating that the power company should have recognized that its conduct involved a risk of harm to oil field workers. Moreover, the power company had actual knowledge of previous instances of oil field workers' negligence or inattentiveness in moving erect masts under or near the uninsulated power lines. The court found that there were precautions that could have and should have been taken to eliminate or reduce the hazard and concluded that the minimal burden of adequate precautions was clearly outweighed by the product of the chance and the gravity of the harm.