Cohen, Placitella & Roth Attorneys Obtain $4.6 Million Verdict for Premises Liability Case

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Cohen, Placitella & Roth attorneys Joel S. Rosen and J.B Dilsheimer obtained a $4.6 million verdict against PPL Electric Utilities (Vincent R. Nertavich, Jr. v. PPL Electric Utilities Corporation, Et Al. Case No. 09092316) after jurors found that PPL Electric Utilities failed to properly monitor its work site to ensure the proper use of the required fall protection safety equipment. As a result of PPL’s negligent failure to observe and stop unsafe work practices, Vincent Nertavich, working for a painting contractor hired by PPL to paint its utility pole fell forty feet to the ground. The jury found PPL 51% responsible for this accident resulting in a final judgment in the amount of $2.3 million.

The standard in the electric industry is to have internal rules for safety procedures and to monitor if the people working on electric poles, even those who are contractors, know how to safely go up on the poles, Rosen said.

On September 23, 2007, Vincent Nertavich was working for a contractor that was hired by PPL to paint its tubular steel electric transmission utility poles. He fell when his fall safety equipment slipped off the peg of a climbing ladder. The extent of the Plaintiff’s personal injuries was significant, including burst compression lumbar fractures that effectively made the plaintiff 3 ½ inches shorter, along with a whole host of other physical injuries, rendering the Plaintiff vocationally disabled.

According to the Plaintiff, Defendant PPL permitted the Plaintiff to ascend, descend and paint the incident transmission pole without a proper Personal Fall Arrest System (“PFAS”) or any means of attaching himself securely to the transmission pole. The Plaintiff argued that PPL’s failure to monitor job site safety and to insist on Plaintiff’s use of a proper PFAS created an unreasonably dangerous work site which was not obvious to the Plaintiff but which was or should have been obvious to PPL.

The Plaintiff’s experts, Greg Booth, an electric utilities expert, and Stephen A. Estrin, a construction site safety expert, both testified that PPL breached the standard of care in the electric utility industry and for construction site safety and that PPL’s breaches of the standards of case caused Mr. Nertavich’s catastrophic injuries.

The defense argued that the Plaintiff was responsible for his own safety and that he failed to properly use the fall protection provided by his employer, the painting contractor, to secure himself to the PPL pole he was painting. PPL did not seriously contest damages by not calling any damages’ witnesses at trial.

On March 9, 2012, jurors in the courtroom, presided over by the Honorable Mark I. Bernstein in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County, issued the verdict after deliberating for 4-1/2 hours in favor of the Plaintiff following nine days of trial. The jury found that PPL was 51% at fault and Plaintiff was 49% at fault.

The team representing the Plaintiff consisted of lead counsel Joel S. Rosen, along with attorney J.B. Dilsheimer. According to Cohen, Placitella & Roth attorney Joel S. Rosen, “PPL's own internal safety procedures, as well as practice across the electric utility industry, required it to implement safety measures to guard against such an incident. It failed to do so in this case."

Cohen, Placitella & Roth attorney J.B. Dilsheimer, also representing Nertavich, adds, “PPL was required to ensure a safe worksite for its subcontractors. By failing to do so, they were unnecessarily placing workers on PPL property at risk for injury. We are hopeful that an accident like this doesn’t occur to someone else in the future.”

About Cohen, Placitella & Roth, PC
Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., is a nationally recognized law firm that represents injured parties in a wide array of complex litigation matters such as product liability, personal injury/wrongful death, defective products, securities fraud, unfair and deceptive business acts. The firm's achievements include obtaining record high settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients. To learn more, please visit or call 1-888-375-7600.

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