Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Teen’s employer seeks dismissal in suit alleging electrocution from defective outlet

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jun 13, 2018

A deceased 19-year-old’s former employer seeks to dismiss a suit alleging the teen was electrocuted while performing job duties when he attempted to plug in a vacuum pump.

Defendant Viviano Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. filed a motion to dismiss counts XIII and XIV of the first amended complaint on June 5 through attorney Ian White of Cassidy & Mueller PC in Peoria.

Counts XIII and XIV allege negligence pursuant to the Illinois Survival Act and negligence pursuant to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.


The defendant admits that decedent Caleb Elliot was an employee working as an “Install-Helper employee” at the home of defendants Viola Sexton and Linda Johnson on Aug. 11, 2017.

The complaint alleges Viviano negligently performed different types of electrical work at the residence in 2014 that was a proximate cause of Elliot’s electrocution.

However, Viviano argues in its motion to dismiss that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits any representatives of an employee’s estate from bringing a common-law cause of action against the employer for the employee’s injuries.

The defendant argues that its “immunity also applies as to a wrongful-death action brought by nondependent parents and siblings of an employee, even though they were not entitled to recover compensation benefits under the Compensation Act.”

Because Caleb Elliot was an employee performing job duties when he was killed, Viviano argues that dismissal is appropriate.

Doug Elliott and Dawn Elliott, as independent co-administrators of the estate of Caleb Elliott, filed the complaint on Nov. 30, 2017. They name Viviano, Sexton, Johnson, Rebuilding Together Southwest Illinois, Liberty Worship Center, The Boeing Company, Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis, and J/B Industries Inc as defendants in the suit. 

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege home electrical and outlet maintenance was performed in 2014 at Sexton and Johnson’s Troy home by the defendant non-profit groups.

Then on Aug. 11, 2017, Caleb Elliott went to the home as an employee of Viviano. His duties required him to use and plug a J/B Industries Inc. vacuum pump DV-85-N into an outlet. After Caleb Elliott plugged the vacuum pump into the outlet and began operating the pump, he was electrocuted. He died as a result of his injuries the same day.

The plaintiffs allege the defendants failed to properly wire, connect or install the electrical outlets; failed to inspect the electrical outlets; failed to inform and warn the decedent that the outlets were improperly wired or installed; failed to maintain the property in a manner that is in compliance with local and state ordinances; failed to maintain the outlets; failed to install a ground fault circuit interrupter; allowed the outlets to be installed with a false ground or reverse polarity; and failed to protect the entire branch circuit with a ground fault circuit interrupter.

The plaintiffs are represented by Robert Marcus of Kujawski Marcus LLC in O’Fallon and Justin Haber of Kalcheim Haber LLC in Chicago.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 17-L-1625

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Organizations in this Story

Cassidy and Mueller Kalcheim Haber, LLP Kujawski Marcus LLC Madison County Circuit Court