$800,000: Employee Electrocuted At Construction Site Due To Employer’s Negligence

CASE DESCRIPTION:  Part of a construction site was ordered to have its slope reduced.  During the grading process the Scraper truck became entangled in some debris.  Plaintiff’s Decedent came over from the water truck that followed the scraper and tried to remove the debris.  Unbeknownst to the Decedent the debris was actually the temporary electrical power wires installed for the construction site.  Decedent’s mother brought suit for wrongful death for the son she had lost.

RESULT:  $800,000.00 total verdict

Defendant Swinerton & Walberg was the General Contractor, and Defendant SASCO Electric, Inc. and Southern California Grading Company were subcontractors on the SOKA University of America construction project in Orange County, California.  SASCO Electric, Inc. provided long term temporary electricity to the construction site.  Southern California Grading Company was grading a certain portion of the construction site in order to reduce the slope of the grade.   Defendant Robert K., an employee of Defendant Southern California Grading Company, was operating the scraper and Plaintiff’s Decedent Charles P. was following the scraper with the water truck.  Defendant’s scraper became entangled in some wiring and piping.  Robert K. stopped the scraper, got off and called over to his foreman.

Plaintiff’s Decedent Charles P., upon observing the “debris”, walked up from his water truck and apparently attempted to remove the debris from the path of the scraper.  Unbeknownst to Decedent, the debris was electrical wire installed by SASCO Electric to provide temporary electrical power to the construction site, and upon contact with the wire, Charles P. was fatally electrocuted.

Plaintiff contended that everyone in the area had been informed of the presence of the temporary electrical conduit except for Plaintiff’s Decedent.  Plaintiff further contended that SASCO improperly buried the conduit only 22 inches deep, instead of the 36 inches deep as communicated with the other Defendants, and did not properly mark the conduit with underground warning tape so that anyone observing the tape would know that there was live electrical charge below it.

SASCO contended that it properly buried the electrical conduit pursuant to the National Electrical Code (“NEC”), which only required the electrical conduit to be buried 18 inches deep.  Defendant Southern California Grading Company failed to “pothole” to determine the exact depth of the conduit before excavating, as required by Cal OSHA rules.  Defendant Grading Company admitted negligence, but not causation.

TYPE OF CASE:  Wrongful Death

INJURIES:  Charles P. was killed as a result of the incident.


PLAINTIFF’S AGE:  Decedent – was 38 at time of incident

OCCUPATION:  Decedent – Water truck operator

Richard A. Cohn
For Plaintiffs – Mary & Charles P.

Thomas M. Phillips
For Defendants – Southern California Grading Company and Swinerton & Walberg

Brian K. Stewart
For Defendant – SASCO Electric, Inc.