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Liability only - Alleged negligent inspection and maintenance of utility pole - Pole strike's car - Multiple lumbar disc herniations - TMJ.

Delaware County

This action was filed by the female plaintiff, age 21 at the time of injury, against Bell Telephone Company, Philadelphia Electric Company and the owner of the property where a utility pole was located. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to adequately inspect or maintain the pole, resulting in its collapse onto her car. The plaintiff claimed to have sustained multiple lumbar disc herniations and TMJ in the accident.

However, the case was bifurcated and heard on liability only. The defendants each asserted that they did not own and were not responsible for the utility pole at issue.

The plaintiff testified that she was driving on Rose Valley Road in Media when her car was suddenly struck by a utility pole. The plaintiff’s wooden pole expert testified that the pole was caused to fall by wood rot. The investigating state police officer testified that he observed an oval metal plate on the pole which stated "Bell of Pa." The defendant Philadelphia Electric introduced evidence that it erected a new pole next to the old pole some ten years prior to the accident and transferred its equipment onto the new pole.

Philadelphia Electric argued that it had no equipment on the subject pole at the time of the accident, did not own the pole and was not responsible for its maintenance.

Bell Telephone admitted that it had equipment on the pole at the time it fell, but denied that it was informed by the co-defendant that a new pole was available. Bell Telephone denied that it owned the pole, based on its pole maps and diagrams, and denied that it used the type of insignia described by the investigating officer. The utility defendants contended that the pole was a private property pole for which it was not responsible.

The jury found Bell Telephone 65% negligent, Philadelphia Electric 35% negligent and the property owner not negligent.

Post-trial motions and the damages portion of the trial are pending.

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