Family of roofer sues Entergy for wrongful death

David Yates Jan. 2, 2008, 5:00am

The monthly bill that every Entergy customer receives contains a printed warning: "Stay away from power lines." Sound advice, but some occupations require working in close proximity to live wires.

On April 18, Kenneth James Dobson, a roofer, was working in Huntsville when he came into contact with a power line and was electrocuted. He died from his injuries and now his benefactors have filed a lawsuit on his behalf against Entergy Gulf States.

The lawsuit, filed by Vertice Dobson in the Jefferson County District Court on Dec. 20, claims the power lines were too low to the ground and sagging. The suit also names United Home Improvement (Dobson's employer), Brazos United Roofing and RSC Equipment Rental as defendants.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, on April 18, 2007, Dobson was working as an employee of UHI in Huntsville installing siding at the Parkview Place Apartments. He was using a lift furnished by Brazos, which had been rented from RSC.

"While attempting to complete his work, Decedent came into contact with or proximity to an overhead power line owned and operated by Defendant Entergy," the suit said. "Decedent suffered an electrocution injury and suffered extensive injuries to his head and body which ultimately caused the death of Decedent."

The suit accuses UHI, Brazos and RSC with negligence, claiming the companies provided Dobson with equipment that "was not suited for working in proximity to overhead power lines, i.e. the lift which Decedent was working with at the time of his injuries."

"Defendants should have either provided a lift that was insulated or otherwise suitable for use and operation near overhead power lines, or refused to provide a lift for this purpose," the suit said. "Defendants UHI, Brazos and RSC failed to warn Decedent of the danger associated with operating the lift in close proximity to overhead power lines."

The suit goes on to say UHI and Brazos failed to request that the overhead power lines be de-energized and also failed to comply with Texas Health & Safety Code.

The suit says Entergy is negligent because the company allegedly failed to properly maintain the overhead power lines.

The plaintiffs are suing for wrongful death damages, mental anguish, medical expenses and funeral costs.

They are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by Steve Waldman of the Grossman & Waldman law firm.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A180-918

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