Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

Premier Utility Services denies liability in worker’s suit alleging electric shock from hitting live electrical line

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 12, 2016

Premier Utility Services denies liability and claims a worker should have followed appropriate protocol to locate electrical lines before digging.

Donald “Joe” and Jennifer Chick filed the lawsuit on Jan. 15 against Ameren Illinois Company, also known as Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois, and Premier Utility Services LLC.

According to the complaint, Joe Chick was operating a backhoe to uncover and repair an underground sewer line at 112 Riverwoods Cove in East Alton on Jan. 18, 2014. While using the backhoe, the plaintiff claims he struck an electrical line that was owned, operated and maintained by Ameren.

Premier Utility Service was employed to locate and mark all underground lines across the entire property, the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs also claim they informed the defendants of their plans to excavate, but the defendants allegedly failed to record the notice and did not mark the property.

As a result, the plaintiff claims he was shocked when he came into contact with the live electrical line.

They seek judgments against both defendants of more than $50,000 for each count, plus court costs.

Premier Utility Services answered the complaint on March 29 through attorneys Benjamin Levinsky and John Patton Jr. of Patton & Ryan LLC in Chicago. The defendant denied liability and asserted two affirmative defenses against the plaintiff for Contributory negligence, sole proximate cause and several liability.

Premier Utility Services argues that Chick’s conduct caused or contributed to his alleged injuries.

The defendant alleges Chick negligently failed to take reasonable action to inform himself of the location of the underground utility facilities while engaging in nonemergency excavation, failed to plan the excavation to avoid or minimize interference with the underground facilities within the tolerance zone by utilizing precautions and failed to provide additional notice through the State-Wide One-Call Notice System despite the existence of factors that had caused the utility markings to become faded or indistinguishable.

Premier Utility Services also argues that Chick’s conduct was the sole proximate cause of his alleged injuries.

Ameren Illinois filed a motion to strike Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois from caption of the complaint on Feb. 26 through attorney Matthew Champlin of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.

The defendant argues that Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois and Ameren Illinois Company are two distinct legal entities, meaning one is not also known as the other.

“Ameren Transmission Co. of Illinois did not own, operate, or maintain the electric line at 112 Riverwoods Cove, East Alton, Illinois. Rather, the underground line allegedly involved in this incident is owned, operated and maintained by Ameren Illinois Company,” the motion states.

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder granted Ameren’s motion to strike Ameren Transmission from caption of the complaint. She set a case management conference for June 29 at 9 a.m.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mark R. Bahn of St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-61

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