This case involves an employee of an electrical company who was instructed to make improvements to the electrical wires outside of an apartment building following a snowstorm. He was instructed to disconnect electrical power from the apartment building during the day (for approximately one hour) to perform an adjustment of the wiring. He had undergone only basic training in advance of the project. Fifteen minutes after disconnecting the power to the apartment building in order to make the repairs, a resident exited the building and began an argument with the plaintiff for shutting off the power. The situation escalated, and the plaintiff attacked and struck the resident. The resident fell to the ground and sustained a broken nose, a laceration on his head, and a broken clavicle.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
1. What is the appropriate measure (or industry norm) for an electrical worker who encounters a confrontational resident, during an attempt to disconnect electricity?
Expert Witness Response
This appears to be a major deviation from the standard operating procedures by electric utility workers. Generally, with some differences for different companies and circumstances, the policy for all field agents who encounter a confrontational homeowner is to immediately depart the premises and notify a supervisor. This employee, either due to lack of training or oversight by the HR / hiring department, failed to acknowledge this policy and instead resorted to violence. I have over thirty-four years of experience in the electrical industry, with twenty years spent at a large, urban electrical company and fourteen years as a consultant.