West Virginia Record

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Man blames AEP for burns

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 27, 2010

HUNTINGTON -– A man blames American Electric Power for severe burns and neurotic damage he incurred while working close to a live electrical wire.

Stephen Hardiman filed a lawsuit Nov. 20 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Appalachian Power Company doing business as American Electric Power.

Hardiman, who worked for Axis Construction at the time of the alleged incident on March 20, claims the owners of a building located at 530 10th St. in Huntington hired him and other Axis workers to build a Mansard awning that overhangs about three to four feet from the original building front.

"Months before March 20, 2009, the plaintiff and other employees of Axis Construction inquired of the AEP field engineer as to what safety precautions were necessary prior to the utilization of an aerial scissor lift in order to construct a Mansard roof/awning which overhangs approximately 3 to 4 feet from the original front of the building adjacent to 10th Street," Hardiman's suit states. "In response to the inquiry, the plaintiff was informed that the line was not energized inasmuch as it was an auxillary line with service that did not extend to the construction site."

To build the roof, Hardiman and his fellow employees utilized an aerial lift near the side of the building and adjacent to the power line, but thought they were safe because of the field engineer's representations, according to the complaint.

However, while Hardiman used an aerial scissor lift to install shingles on the awning, the lift came into contact with a connecting jumper affixed to an AEP utility pole, the complaint says.

"When the metal frame of the scissor lift approached and/or contacted the connecting loop/jumper of the 37,500 volt sub-transmission line, the electric circuit ran to the ground and sent electricity throughout the plaintiff's body and eventually exiting through his feet, thereby causing severe electrical injuries, including, but not limited to, severe burns, neurotic damage and other bodily and neurological damage not yet fully assessed, throughout his body," the suit states.
Because of the incident, Hardiman claims he suffered physical pain, suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, permanent disfigurement, loss of body parts, loss of his capacity to enjoy life, annoyance and inconvenience and incurred medical expenses.

In his three-count complaint, Hardiman alleges negligence, tort of outrage and punitive damages.

"AEP's refusal to disconnect its 37,500 volt sub-transmission lines while employees of Axis Construction were working in close proximity to the same for several months is beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the suit states.

L. Lee Javins II and D. Blake Carter Jr. of Bucci, Bailey and Javins in Charleston will be representing him.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-1274

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Bucci, Bailey and Javins