Dairy farmer: Stray voltage made cattle ill and caused emotional distress

By Kelly Holleran | Mar 1, 2012

A Carlyle man has filed suit against the electrical company that he claims caused his cattle to stop producing milk.

Blaine Hilmes alleges defendant Southwestern Electric Cooperative supplied electrical power to his dairy farm at 43 Metcalf Rd. in Carlyle. In 2010, Hilmes discovered that there was a condition known as stray voltage that caused his cattle to experience an electrical shock when they come in contact with various parts of the farm, such as the waterers, stalls, milking equipment and feeders, according to the complaint filed Feb. 23 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Due to the electric shocks, the cattle suffered from a significant decrease in milk production, became ill, aborted calves and suffered reproductive problems, the suit states. Because of the cattle's problems, Hilmes incurred veterinary expenses, spent extra hours caring for their cows, purchased replacement animals and incurred emotional stress, the complaint says.

Hilmes blames Southwestern for causing the cattle's problems, saying the electric company negligently failed to properly install an electrical power distribution system, failed to properly balance various electrical grounds and neutrals, failed to determine whether the imbalance was caused from the system and failed to warn of any dangers of its electrical system, among other negligent acts.

Hilmes alleges negligence, product liability, failure to warn, nuisance, breach of warranty and consumer fraud and breach of contract against Southwestern Electric Cooperative.

In his seven-count complaint, Hilmes is seeking a judgment of more than $350,000, plus costs.

Daniel R. Price and Ryan Rich of Wham and Wham Associates in Centralia will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-240.

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