Jurors deliberating in Entergy electrocution case

David Yates Apr. 2, 2010, 10:55am

Jefferson County jurors have been tasked to decide if Entergy, the local electrical service provider, is responsible for a man's 2005 death.

According to court documents, Jabari Akins was attempting to cross over the backyard fence of his Beaumont home when 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 29, 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 for around $100,000; however, Akins' father, Earnest Maize, joined the suit and then pursued a severed claim against Entergy.

The trial of Maize vs. Entergy began March 25 in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court. Jurors began delibrating on Thursday, April 1. The Jefferson County Courthouse was closed the next day in observance of Good Friday.

During the week's testimony, jurors heard from 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 that caused Akins' death. Entergy did not own any of the energized equipment, he said.

He said that Marino's home was built in the 1950s and required special "3-phase" electrical equipment, unlike more modern homes.

Todd said Marino asked him "if they were going to blame him for this."

He 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.

Maize alleges that Akins suffered fatal injuries while crossing over the fence on May 29, 2005, 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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