HUNTINGTON – A Clay County couple filed a federal suit against a major electrical company over a severe electrical shock the man says he received from an electric line while he was searching for ginseng.

Samuel and Crystal Nottingham filed suit against Appalachian Power Company on March 5.

They say Samuel Nottingham was hunting for ginseng on June 10, 2007, on property owned by a member of his family when he passed under electric power transmission lines near an Appalachian Power pole.

"Suddenly and without warning, the plaintiff suffered severe electrical shock as a proximate result of the unreasonable dangers posed by Appalachian Power's electric power transmission lines and poles," the suit states.

Before being shocked, Samuel Nottingham says he saw no warnings of live electric power lines and poles in the area.

Because of the shock, Samuel Nottingham suffered permanent physical impairment, incurred severe injuries to his right arm, left foot and lungs and sustained severe burns, disfigurement and scarring, according to the complaint. He also says he incurred medical expenses, experienced emotional distress, lost wages and sustained a decreased earning capacity, lost his enjoyment of life and experienced pain and suffering.

Crystal Nottingham says she suffered the loss of her husband's affection and services.

"Crystal Nottingham has suffered severe emotional distress, including, but not limited to: Horror, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment, worry and nausea to a degree that no reasonable person should be expected to endure," the suit states. "It was reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff would suffer serious emotional distress as a result of witnessing her husband suffer severe and devastating personal injuries."

Appalachian Power should not have maintained an electric power transmission line with a high and dangerous voltage in a place where it knows people may come into contact with it, the complaint says.

In addition, the company should have provided warnings about the lines, according to the suit.

"The injuries sustained by the plaintiff are such that in the ordinary course of events that they would not have happened had the defendant, as the one in control of the electric power transmission lines and poles, used due care," the suit states.

In the five-count suit, the Nottinghams are seeking a judgment for past and future medical expenses, past and future pain and suffering, past and future loss of their ability to enjoy life, past and future emotional distress and mental anguish, past and future annoyance and inconvenience, increased risk of injury and disease, scarring and disfigurement, present fear of a future illness, medical monitoring costs, plus unspecified punitive damages, attorney's fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Brian L. Ooten and Anthony J. Cicconi of Shaffer and Shaffer in Madison will be representing them.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-0200

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