Verizon says it isn't responsible for man's fall off pole

By Kelly Holleran | Dec 10, 2009

CHARLESTON – Verizon South says it did not own a pole that allegedly broke while a Bluefield man was climbing it, causing him to fall 25 feet.

Therefore, Verizon South claims it should not be responsible for paying plaintiff Danny Johnson any damages. Instead, Comcast, the company where Danny Johnson worked as a maintenance technician at the time of the alleged incident, should indemnify Verizon South, it says in its third-party complaint against Comcast.

According to his complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, Danny Johnson was working on a utility pole near Bluefield on Aug. 6, 2008, when the pole broke, causing him to fall 25 feet to the ground.

Because of his fall, Danny Johnson suffered severe bodily injuries, pain, mental anguish and disfigurement and lost wages, his earning capacity and his ability to enjoy life, the suit states.

Meanwhile, his wife, Lisa Johnson, claims she suffered the loss of her husband's affection, care and income.

The Johnsons filed suit against Verizon South and Appalachian Power Company, pegging them with the blame for failing to inspect the pole from which Danny Johnson fell.

But Verizon South contends Comcast has the duty to cover Verizon South for any damages the Johnsons may recover from it because Danny Johnson worked for Comcast at the time of the incident.

In addition, Verizon South claims it does not even own the pole in question, but transferred ownership to Appalachian Power Company on Aug. 6, 2006, the suit states.

In their lawsuit, the Johnsons are seeking compensatory damages, plus interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Because the Johnsons are seeking more than $75,000 and because they are citizens of West Virginia while Verizon South is not, Verizon South removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Stuart Calwell and David H. Carriger of The Calwell Practice in Charleston will be representing the Johnsons.

J. David Fenwick of Goodwin and Goodwin in Charleston will be representing Verizon South.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-1169

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