FPL Ordered to Pay $24 Million Dollars Following Electrocution Death of Teen
As Floridians like our injury attorneys know, Florida Power & Light (FPL) provides electricity to millions of Florida households. Every month, the arrival of FPL utility bills inspire groan across the Sunshine State. But for one Fort Myers family, FPL seems to have been at least partially responsible for a deadly serious tragedy—the fatal electrocution of a teenage son. As our Delray Beach personal injury team will explore in this blog, a Lee County jury recently found FPL liable for nearly $24 million in the 2011 electrocution death of a 15 year-old. Read our blog to find out why FPL Ordered to Pay $24 Million Dollars Following Electrocution Death of Teen.
Back in 2011, a Fort Myers-area teenager named Justin Dominguez passed away after he was electrocuted by 13,000-volt FPL power lines located close to a stalk of bamboo on which the teen was climbing. The shock that occurred when he came in contact with the FPL electrical lines produced injuries so grave that, after two weeks in a hospital, Justin was declared brain dead and removed from life support. The basic facts of the case—that the injuries and death were caused by contact between Justin and the FPL power lines while the teenager was climbing up a bamboo stalk—were never really in dispute. Rather, as our Delray Beach injury lawyers know, the legal fight between Justin’s surviving mother and FPL was over liability—that is, who, if anyone, should be held responsible for the teen’s untimely death.
The Legal Arguments Over Fault
In defending the action brought by Justin’s mother, FPL and its attorneys argued argued that the teen was to blame for his injuries and death, as he knowingly chose to climb up a bamboo stalk clearly in the immediate vicinity of powerful power lines. While the jury’s ultimate decision did reflect some agreement with this assertion, as our team of injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green knows, FPL’s argument did not carry the day.
Attorneys representing Justin’s mother made a number of strong arguments for why FPL was liable for the incident and its consequences. The crux of the argument was that FPL was aware that the bamboo stalk near the power lines was a risk to local residents—this was evidenced by the fact that FPL officials had arranged for the bamboo to be removed three years before the incident. Unfortunately, at the time of the accident, the bamboo had still not been removed. As our injury attorneys understand, had FPL followed through on its removal plans, this tragedy could have been avoided.
The Jury’s Decision
In late December, the jury, sitting in Circuit Court in Lee County, FL, awarded the deceased teenager’s mother $12.5 million for her immense pain and suffering. Because the jury determined that, by assuming the risk, the teenager was 30% at fault, the damages award against FPL was reduced by that amount, bringing the damage award in favor of the mother to $8.75 million. On top of the damages award, the jury agreed to penalize FPL, and reward the teen’s mother, with an award of punitive damages in the amount of $15 million (this amount not being subject to the reduction based on the fault of the teen), bringing the total damage award to $23.75 million. As our injury attorneys know, punitive damages serve to incentivize companies to conduct themselves in a more careful manner so as to avoid future tragedies. In this case, for instance, perhaps the award of punitive damages will encourage FPL to clear out attractive hazards such as bamboo stalks. Do you agree that FPL should have been Ordered to Pay $24 Million Dollars Following Electrocution Death?
If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our skilled injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green to schedule a free consultation. You may reach us by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. With offices in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Plantation, and Wellington, we are here to help.