TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Jurors being screened in suit over North Huntingdon woman's electrocution death

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Jury selection will continue this morning in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in the wrongful death lawsuit over the 2009 electrocution of a 39-year-old North Huntingdon woman.

The civil lawsuit against West Penn Power Co. filed by the family of Carrie Goretzka of 23 W. Hempfield Drive seeks unspecified damages against the utility.

Goretzka died three days after she was trapped under a fallen 7,200-volt power line outside her home on June 2, 2009, in view of her mother-in-law and two daughters, Chloe, then 4, and Carlie, then 2.

The lawsuit alleges that Goretzka was continuously shocked “and actually caught on fire for several minutes before the power was shut off.”

She suffered burns over 85 percent of her body and died in UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh on June 5, 2009, according to the lawsuit, filed by her husband, Michael J. Goretzka.

Lawyers for the Goretzka family, Shanin Specter and Kila Baldwin of Philadelphia, are expected to summon experts from around the country to attempt to prove to jurors that the utility — now owned by FirstEnergy Corp.— based in Akron, Ohio, should have known that a power line could fall if the line and the splices that held it up were installed incorrectly.

Documents filed in connection with the lawsuit allege that West Penn linemen did not use wire brushes to remove rust from the line splices, “which could result in an increased temperature and lost tension in the wire, causing the wires to fall.”

The company denies the allegations. FirstEnergy is represented by Pittsburgh attorney Mark K. Dausch.

Jurors are expected to hear expert testimony on both sides of the issue during the trial that is expected to last about two weeks.

Judge Michael A. DellaVecchia will preside over the case.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. 10 of Jon Stewart’s highlights from ‘The Daily Show’
  2. U.S. asks Supreme Court to reinstate convictions of portfolio managers who won on appeal
  3. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
  4. Warrant issued for man accused of killing Brookline woman
  5. How to unsend an email
  6. Man wounded in Marshall-Shadeland shooting
  7. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  8. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  9. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  10. Facebook ready to test giant drone
  11. Cost-cutting at Kraft Heinz extends to refrigerator