GB&W Obtains $4.7 Million Verdict Against Power Company for Electrocution

On July 9, 2010, 31-year-old Pablo Padilla Ayala was using a ladder to pick fruit off orchard trees when he struck SCE’s low hanging high-voltage electric power lines. Plaintiffs contended that the subject power lines were too low, violated accepted industry standards, endangered farm workers, and that one fatality per week occurs nationwide under similar circumstances. SCE contended that the line heights complied with PUC General Order 95 and that the incident was decedent’s fault for using a 20-foot ladder on trees the defense claimed were only 10-12 feet high. The jury found no comparative negligence on decedent. The decedent was an undocumented immigrant whose family resided in Mexico and whom he had not seen for over a year and a half. Mr. Jarchi urged the jury to reject any suggestion that the value of decedent’s loss was any less due to his national origin, because the family and plaintiffs did not speak English, or because decedent’s work required him to be away from his family for periods of time. He requested approximately $5.7 million in damages and 85% liability against SCE and the jury awarded $4.7 million and found 80% liability against SCE.