Jon Campisi Sep. 11, 2012, 7:31am

A Philadelphia Water Department employee has filed suit against PECO Energy Co. injuries he allegedly sustained last spring after coming into contact with a poorly marked underground electrical line during a PWD site excavation.

Michal White claims in his civil action, which was filed Sept. 6 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Pennsauken, N.J. attorney John T. Dooley, that he was thrown several feet out of the excavation hole in which he was working on May 26, 2011, due to his star drill coming into contact with a buried, unmarked high voltage electrical line belonging to the defendant.

The incident caused an explosion and fire to occur, which threw White out of the hole and caused him to sustain what the lawsuit calls “life-changing, devastating and catastrophic” electrical injuries, including a loss of consciousness, buzzing and aching in his chest, bruises and other chest wall injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe migraine headaches, depression, nervousness, sleep disturbance, inability to grasp for short periods of time, and memory problems.

The incident has also caused White to suffer from mental and physical pain, occupation prevention, earnings losses, and other ills.

The complaint alleges that prior to the worksite incident, PECO was aware of prior accidents of a similar nature that had resulted in injury and/or death when work was being performed using a star drill to break ground near areas containing PECO underground high voltage power lines.

The lawsuit further claims that prior to initiating the excavation work, the plaintiff’s employer made a request under the Pennsylvania One Call System for the identification and surface marking by the utility companies within the intended excavation area of all underground utility lines, including those owned by PECO.

The One Call System is named as an additional defendant in the civil action, as is King of Prussia, Pa.-based STS LLC and Georgia-based Utiliquest LLC.

The lawsuit contains negligence counts against the various defendants in which it accuses the companies of failing to use insulated power lines, failing to place barriers over powers lines so as to minimize contact, failing to adequately warn persons of the dangerous condition, failing to comply with the National Electric Code and National Electric Safety Code, filing to exercise the highest degree of care, failing to inspect high voltage power lines, failing to properly investigate and analyze accidents involving the use of star drills and taking appropriate corrective action to prevent the same, failing to adequately mark the danger area, and other acts of negligence and carelessness.

White seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, delay damages and attorney’s fees.

White is also demanding a jury trial.


The case ID number is 120900543.

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