Justices to decide whether to reinstate electrocution case against Entergy

David Yates Aug. 24, 2010, 8:28am

Appellate justices will soon determine whether an electrocution case against Entergy should be reinstated.

In November 2007, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a wrongful death suit filed by the widow of Kevin Lee Presley.

According to Tammy Presley's lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County District Court, her husband was performing repairs on a dump truck owned by Jackey Derryberry at the NAPA Auto Parts Store in Montgomery.

Presley died from electrocution on June 9, 2007, when the bed of the truck came into contact with a high voltage electric line owned and controlled by Entergy.

Court records show Presley was working for Derryberry on a trial basis in Cut and Shoot, Texas. Three days prior to the incident, Presley had convinced Derryberry to let him drive the dump truck on the condition that he would not have to pay him if Derryberry was not satisfied with his job performance.

Against Derryberry's implicit instruction, Presley drove the dump truck to NAPA to purchase a missing truck pin. For reasons unknown, Presley raised the bed of the truck, causing it to come in contact with Entergy's power lines.

"The dump truck did not need to be raised to look at the remaining pin or pull the pin out," court papers say.

Arguing that Presley violated the Texas Health & Safety Code when he made the decision on his own to take the truck to the store, Entergy filed a motion for summary judgment.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, granted the motion Jan. 10, leading Tammy Presley to appeal the court's ruling.

On Sept. 9, Texas justices seated on the Ninth Court of Appeals will entertain oral arguments.

In her appellate brief, Tammy Presley argues Entergy negligently failed to raise the power line to a sufficient height and "failed to conclusively disprove" her cause of action.

Conversely, Entergy maintains that Presley was in violation of the code, and therefore unable to claim an action.

"Entergy request that his court uphold the trial court's judgment and render judgment in its own favor," the company's appeals brief states.

Tammy is seeking survival and punitive damages.

She is represented by attorney Sandee Hart of Orange.

Entergy is represented by Beaumont attorney Christine Kibbe.

Trial case No. E180-784
Appeals case No. 09-10-00039-CV

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