A Hamilton County, Ohio jury found a pole inspection company 100 percent at fault in the death of a senior lineman/trainer who died while working on a utility pole that fell on top of him. On June 7, 2017, the jury returned a wrongful death verdict of $28 million to the family of Keith Jester, 43, who worked for Duke Energy.

The lawyers for the plaintiff were Stuart Scott, Jeremy Tor and Peter Weinberger of the Ohio-based injury firm of Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, who brought the suit against Utilimap Corporation, a division of Quanta Services.

Jester climbed a utility pole with another worker when it broke below ground. Since Jester was strapped to the pole, he fell with it and died of internal injuries one hour later. Ultimap was hired by Duke Energy, Jester’s employer, to inspect the pole as one of 30,000 for public and worker safety and to ensure the reliability of the electricity system. Ultimap’s inspection program occurred more than two years before the accident and the plaintiff’s lawyers proved the company did not in fact inspect the downed pole.  

The jury ultimately found Utilimap 100% negligent in failing to inspect the pole and failing to notify Duke Energy. The jury found no negligence on the part of Jester, who is survived by his wife and three children.

The case is proceeding to a punitive damage phase on June 14th before the same jury in the courtroom of Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Timothy Hogan.

A statement on Spangenberg’s site notes: “Our firm is proud of our legal team for their efforts in litigating this difficult case, and for securing the compensation the man’s family needs as they move forward and rebuild their lives. Although no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, it does provide a sense of justice by ensuring the negligent party is held accountable.”