Family of boy who was electrocuted by power line settles suit for $4M
Photo by Manprit Kalsi
The family of a 13-year-old boy who was electrocuted after a metal pole that he was playing with touched a low-hanging power line has settled a lawsuit with the at-fault power company for $4 million, according to court documents.
Dunaway Law Firm is a personal injury law firm in Anderson, South Carolina.
The boy, Brayden Williford, was playing in a friend’s yard in Anderson County in October 2019 when they discovered metal poles behind a barn and began using them to mimic Olympic pole vaulters, according to a lawsuit filed in Anderson County Circuit Court. Williford’s pole came in contact with a live power line owned and maintained by Little River Electric Co-Op, which was hanging 13.9 feet off the ground.
Williford went into cardiac arrest, and despite efforts by EMS workers to revive him at the scene, was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later.
The National Electric Safety Code requires that power lines hang no lower than 18.5 feet above the ground, according to the family’s complaint.
“This case was more about damages than it was about liability because it was crystal clear that the power line was hanging too low,” said Thomas “Field” Dunaway IV of Anderson, who represented the boy’s parents along with his father, Thomas Dunaway III, who recently passed away.
“Power companies have an obligation to reasonably inspect and repair their electrical lines in order to discover and remedy hazards and defects. Electricity is not only dangerous, even deadly, but it is invisible, noiseless, and odorless, rendering it impossible to detect the presence of the peril until the fatal work is done.”
Dunaway said that if the cooperative had had an adequate line inspection program in place, it would have easily noticed the defect. He said that as result of the lawsuit, the co-op overhauled their line inspection program.
“This case is another painful reminder about the dangers of electricity and the heightened duty of care that attaches to companies who are in business of supplying such a commodity,” Dunaway said. “Although no amount of money can ever replace a human being, especially an innocent child, the family did not want to further litigate this case and have to endure the painful memories of what happened to Brayden.”
Brad Waring of Butler Snow in Charleston, who represented the co-op, said that the lines were too low because at some point, something had struck the power line’s guy wire, a tensioned cable which adds stability to poles, making the lines sag.
“It was a horrible, tragic accident,” Waring said. “We are glad to bring it to a conclusion, and the family can move on.”
Tom Wills of Wills, Massalone and Allen in Charleston mediated the settlement, which was agreed to on July 24.
Follow Bill Cresenzo on Twitter @becresenzonsclw
SETTLEMENT REPORT – WRONGFUL DEATH
Amount: $4 million
Injuries alleged: Death by electrocution
Name of Case: Williford v. Little River Electric Co-Op
Court: Anderson County Circuit Court
Case number: 2020-CP-04-01219
Mediator: Tom Wills of Wills, Massalone and Allen in Charleston
Date of settlement: July 24
Most helpful experts: Edward Brill of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (electrical engineering)
Attorney for plaintiff: Thomas “Field” Dunaway IV and Tom Dunaway III of Anderson
Attorney for defendant: Brad Warring of Butler Snow in Charleston
Article written by:
Dunaway Law Firm
514 S McDuffie St
Anderson, SC 29624