MacDougall v. Pa. Power & Light Co.

311 Pa. 387, 166 A. 589 (1933)



A company that uses wires charged with an electric current is bound not only to know the extent of the danger, but to use the very highest degree of care practicable to avoid injury to everyone who may be lawfully in proximity to its wires and liable to come accidentally or otherwise in contact with them.


The tinner brought a negligence action against the electric company when he was injured after coming into contact with a fuse box while repairing a downspout. The jury found in favor of the tinner. On appeal, the court affirmed. 


Is an electric utility company liable for injuries sustained by a repair man who came in contact with wires while competently performing his work?




It was for the jury to say whether the electric company took every precaution suggested by experience and the known dangers of electricity to prevent injuries to persons who could lawfully be near the fuse box. The electric company knew that fuse boxes were dangerous at times to human touch, as evidenced by the electric company's policy of forbidding employees to work on fuse boxes without wearing rubber gloves. As to the tinner's contributory negligence, he was on the roof lawfully, called there to perform his duty. There was no proof that he reached out and touched the box in a desire to test its danger. The evidence was that he inadvertently came in contact with the box when he made a normal movement in shifting his working position. Measured by the standard of conduct of a reasonably prudent man, it could not have been said as a matter of law that the tinner showed want of care under the circumstances.

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