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ARTICLE ID 28582

$________ - UTILITY NEGLIGENCE - POWER COMPANY NEGLIGENTLY DISCONNECTS POWER TO TRAFFIC LIGHT - FAILURE TO WARN - INTERSECTION COLLISION - WRONGFUL DEATH OF 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL.

Dade County, Florida

This action was brought against the defendant Florida Power and Light Company, Inc. by the parents of a 12-year-old girl who was killed in an intersection collision in South Miami. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant caused the death by negligently cutting power to the traffic light controlling the intersection and failing to warn that the signal was out. The defendant argued that the accident resulted solely from the negligence of the drivers involved.

The minor decedent was a front seat passenger in her mother’s Mercedes on a rainy evening. At dusk, the host vehicle approached an intersection in South Miami where the traffic light was out due to the power cut by the defendant. The decedent’s mother testified that she did not see the traffic light and was following the flow of traffic through the intersection when her car was struck by a Ford Expedition (whose driver was not a party to the lawsuit). The initial impact caused the plaintiff’s car to spin out of control and it was subsequently struck by a third (non-party) vehicle, according to the testimony offered. The second impact crushed the passenger side of the plaintiff’s car, fatally injuring the young decedent. The decedent was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital shortly after the collision. She was survived by her parents and an older brother. The plaintiff mother did not make a claim for personal injuries which she sustained in the accident.

Evidence showed that the defendant’s employees had turned off power in the area in order to repair a nearby electrical line.

The power outage caused the traffic signal to go out. The plaintiff alleged that it was not necessary for the defendant to cause the traffic signal to go out and that the defendant failed to notify the police of the power outage so that motorists could be safely directed through the intersection. The plaintiff also argued that the defendant’s repair trucks are equipped with cones, flashers and other warning devices which could have been utilized by the defendant’s workers to warn motorist of the hazardous condition. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the accident could have been avoided with the proper precautionary measures.

The defendant argued that whenever a traffic signal is out, Florida statutes require that the intersection be treated as a four-way stop. The defense contended that its workers acted reasonably in cutting the power and that the driver of the Ford Expedition pulled into the intersection blind and was the primary cause of the accident. The defendant also alleged that the plaintiff mother was comparatively negligent for failing to stop before entering the intersection.

The jury found the defendant Florida Power & Light ________% negligent and awarded the plaintiff $________. The plaintiff mother, the driver of the Ford Expedition and the driver of the p 7 3 third vehicle were listed on the verdict form as Fabre defendants and were found not negligent by the jury. Post-trial motions are pending.

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