Berks County-based Met-Ed, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corporation, is being sued by the family of a man who was electrocuted in the backyard of his home in Northampton County in July.
Attorneys representing the family of Thomas Poynton announced the filing of the civil suit on Monday, alleging that Met-Ed and FirstEnergy failed to maintain the power line that killed Poynton.
Poynton, 31, and his wife, Sarah, were inside their home in Williams Township, near Easton, on July 26, when they heard a loud explosion and went to investigate.
From their back deck, the couple noticed sparks and fire at the base of a utility pole approximately 50 to 70 feet behind their home and their two dogs barking and rolling on their backs on the lawn, according to the attorneys.
Not seeing a downed power line, the couple stepped onto the grass to help their dogs.
The electrical power running through the ground caused Thomas Poynton to fall to the lawn, where he was shocked continuously and killed by the force of the 34,500-volt transmission line, which had been connected to the power substation adjacent to his home, the attorneys said.
Sarah Poynton felt the shock run up her legs, but she was not permanently injured.
"This was a terrible death suffered by a husband, father and teacher who was loved by so many," said Shanin Specter, who filed the lawsuit along with Kila Baldwin and Cominic Guerrini, all of the Philadelphia-based Kline and Specter law firm. "Thomas Poynton's death was preventable, had Met-Ed and FirstEnergy properly installed, maintained and inspected its power line, especially such a high-voltage line coming from one of its power substations."
Specter has litigated other cases involving fallen power lines, including one that involved a woman who was killed by a fallen line in western Pennsylvania. That case, Specter said, resulted in a $109 million jury verdict. Specter did not say how much money his firm is seeking in the Northampton County case.
"In addition to obtaining money damages to compensate the Poynton family and punish the defendants, we intend to see to it that these utilities reform their conduct to ensure safe delivery of electric power to the community," he said.
Met-Ed and FirstEnergy declined to comment on the case.
In addition to his wife, Poynton left behind a baby daughter. He worked as a teacher, football coach and advisor at Palisades High School in Bucks County.