Entergy on trial over 2005 electrocution

David Yates Mar. 30, 2010, 6:57am

As Jabari Akins attempted to cross over the backyard fence of his Beaumont home, he came in contact with an energized riser/conduit pole.

The shock knocked him unconscious, causing him to fall face down in a pool of rain water and drown.

A year after the May 2005 incident, Akins' mother, Paige Cleveland filed suit against Entergy and Akin's neighbor Sam Marino, who owned the energized riser.

Cleveland eventually settled her claims; however, Akins' father, Earnest Maize joined the suit and pursued a severed claim against Entergy and Marino.

Last Thursday, jurors began to digest evidence in the case, as the trial of Maize vs. Entergy officially started up in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

On Monday, March 29, jurors heard the testimony of Entergy Manager Gene Todd, who was called out to Akins' home following his death.

Todd testified that Marino, Akins' next door neighbor, "wholly owned" the equipment responsible for Akins' death. He said that Marino's home was built in the 1950s and required special "three-phase" electrical equipment unlike more modern homes.

He said that Entergy did not own any of the energized equipment and that Marino asked him "if they were going to blame him for this."

Todd testified that he was not called out to the scene to assign blame but rather to make the situation safe. He said that he cut power to Marino's home and told Marino's nephew that he would have to call an electrician to make changes to the riser.

He also testified that it is the city's responsibility, not Entergy's, to inspect home owners' electrical layouts.

Court documents allege that on May 29, 2005, Akins suffered fatal injuries while crossing over the fence because Entergy failed to properly maintain and inspect its equipment and follow its own policies and procedures related to underground service.

Maize's attorney, Thad Heartfield, said Entergy had a responsibility to inspect Marino's home lines and cut service to prevent Akins' death.

Maize is seeking monetary damages for his loss of companionship.

Entergy is represented by attorney Paul Scheurich.

Marino is represented by attorney Scot Doyen.

Case No. D178-239

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