Housekeeper receives electric shock in kitchen: Failure to ground appliance: Increased blood flow: Eye injury: Settlement

Housekeeper receives electric shock in kitchen: Failure to ground appliance: Increased blood flow: Eye injury: Settlement

Chiles v. Albarell Elec., Inc., Pa., Phila. County C.C.P., Mar. Term 2000, No. 3476, Sept. 14, 2001.

Chiles, 38, worked as a housekeeper in an assisted care facility for the elderly. She was wiping down a kitchen countertop with a damp rag when she received an electrical shock to her hand. An investigation by the facility’s maintenance staff determined that the electrical current came from an adjacent electric range.

Chiles experienced increased blood flow to her right forearm that indicated a variant of reflex sympathetic dystrophy. She also developed increased light sensitivity in her right eye. Her medical bills were $21,000. Chiles had begun employment one week before the injury, and her projected wage loss is about $162,800.

Chiles sued the subcontractor that had performed the electrical work in the unit where she was injured. Plaintiff claimed that defendant had improperly connected a power supply cord to the range and had thus failed to ground the appliance. She contended that she was shocked when she inadvertently completed the circuit by leaning against the range while reaching with her other hand to wipe the counter. Plaintiff argued that the failure to ground the appliance violated both the national code governing electrical supply work and the project specification issued for the construction of the unit.

Defendant asserted that the range had been installed more than a year before her injury and that neither the residents of the unit nor any other housekeeper had ever experienced any problems with it. Defendant argued that even if the power supply cord had been miswired, use of the range would have caused the unit’s circuit breaker to trip. Defendant also disputed the extent of plaintiff’s injuries. The parties settled for $800,000.

Plaintiff’s experts were Dennis Ivill, physiatrics, Upland, Pa.; Eric Singman, neuro-ophthalmology, Lancaster, Pa.; Raymond Fish, emergency medicine/electrical engineering, Urbana, Ill.; Ronald Rosenberg, vocational rehabilitation, Philadelphia, Pa.; and James Peserik, electrical engineering, Coopersburg, Pa.

Defendant’s experts were Irene Mendelsohn, vocational rehabilitation, Penn Valley, Pa.; Steven Berk, neuropsychology, Wayne, Pa.; Roger Ham, economics, Wallingford, Pa.; and Lee Osterman, orthopedic surgery, and Murray Abraham, ophthalmology, both of Philadelphia, Pa.

Plaintiff’s Counsel

*Richard M. Jurewicz, Philadelphia, Pa.

Copyright Association of Trial Lawyers of America Mar 2002

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