This communications law case involves an employee of a local telecommunications company in Texas who was fatally electrocuted by a negligently placed power line. At the time of the incident in question, the man was working on coaxial cable used by his company to provide broadband internet services to customers. At some point, the man’s partner observed a massive arc flash, after which he was thrown to the ground from the bucket of a cherry picker. The man was killed instantly. It was later discovered that power lines hung from the same poles that carried the coaxial cable had allegedly been installed too low, creating a dangerous condition for anyone working on the coaxial lines.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe your experience doing overhead/aerial construction or repair of communication cables.
- 2. Can you speak to what a utility construction subcontractor does to ensure the lines are not over-tensioned?
- 3. Have you ever served as an expert on a similar case? If so, please explain.
- 4. Have you ever been sued or arrested?
Expert Witness Response E-016796
I am a certified journeymen lineman who worked for both contractors involved here. My duties included working primary and secondary conductors. My final days as a lineman before moving on to management was as a Service Representative, where I was responsible for all the power installation and maintenance needs of four towns in in my state. My initial thoughts centered on whether the distance between the power line and communication cable existed based on state requirements. That is, when I worked as a lineman I had responsibility for maintaining distances in four towns. I was always “looking up” for questionable clearance issues. Any clearances issues were attended to asap. Another thought was the training of the communication employee. Like tree trimmers who work around power lines, they are required to have proper training regarding working in “primary areas”. Primary areas refer to voltages that are usually several thousand volts whereas secondary voltage refers to voltage typically in the hundreds of volts.
Expert Witness Response E-005895
On the surface, it appears that the most important things you need to know is the proximity of the power cables to the communication cables. The NESC sets these requirements and if they were not according to code, the next step would be to determine who is responsible for the inadequate separation. A host of stakeholders to consider and a host of possible reason why. To me, the second biggest question is the training, knowledge and skills the telecommunication worker had as it relates to recognizing power facilities and working around them. Was he qualified to do the work? Was he aware of the need to be qualified?