A family has been awarded $109 million in damages after a mother was electrocuted by a falling power line in front of her two horrified daughters.
A three week trial ended with jurors deliberating for just 90 minutes to come to their decision; finding Western Pennsylvania Power Co. negligent in the death of Carrie Goretzka, 39.
The mother of two was hit by 7,000 volts of electricity when a power line fell on her, setting her on fire. It was claimed in court that she suffered for 20 minutes, pinned down by the power line with the live wire on top of her.
The death has devastated the family, and husband Michael Goretzka had tears in his eyes as the verdict was read out in court. Afterwards he went and hugged and shook hands with each jury member, thanking them.
Goretzka had reportedly complained to the power company on two separate occasions that power lines had fallen into his backyard, saying he feared for his family's safety, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, the warnings went without action and on June 2, 2009 the tragic incident occurred which resulted in his wife's horrendous death.
In court it was described that Mrs Goretzka and her mother in law were at home in the Irwin, Allegheny County residence on June 2, 2009, with daughters Chloe and Carlie, who were just four and two at the time, when there was a power outage. When she noticed a number of trees on fire in the backyard she went out to her car to obtain her mobile phone.
It was described that Mrs Goretzka was on the phone calling 911 at the side of her yard when the power line fell on top of her, sparking her alight in front of her horrified family members. Her mother in law rushed out to try and help, but was unable to get her daughter in law free, and she herself was seriously burned in the incident.
It took 20 minutes for emergency services to arrive and shut off the power, which was still running through the lines on top of the mother of two.
Amazingly Mrs Goretzka did not die at the time of the incident, but was overcome by her severe injuries three days later.
An anonymous juror has said following the verdict, "Its been a very emotional experience through this whole trial and we just wanted to do right by the family and somehow ease their pain and suffering a little bit," according to WTAE News.
West Penn Power said it may appeal Thursday's verdict.