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Jury Awards $109 Million to Family in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

An Allegheny County jury awarded a $109 million wrongful death verdict (Case number: GD-11- 00991) to the family of 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka after she was electrocuted by a falling power line in her backyard, a Dec. 8 report in The Clarion Ledger states. Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before finding West Penn Power Co. negligent for allegedly not training workers on safety practices.

Carrie GoretzkaThe husband and two young children of 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka were awarded $109 million by an Allegheny County jury in a wrongful death lawsuit against West Penn Power Co. According to a Dec. 8 news report in The Clarion Ledger, the fatal accident occurred when a falling power line burned the woman in her backyard. The lawsuit (Case number: GD-11- 00991) alleged that the power company failed to properly train its workers for several years before Goretzka's June 2009 death.

Her husband, Michael Goretzka, had complained to the power company months before the accident that he was concerned for his family's safety because the spliced power line in their backyard failed twice previously, the lawsuit (Case number: GD-11- 00991) stated.

The lawsuit also says that the woman was killed when she went outside to make a cell phone call when she saw a burning backyard tree because the line had overheated again, cutting power to the house. Her daughters, ages 4 and 2, and her mother-in-law, helplessly watched Goretzka burn for more than 20 minutes before emergency personnel arrived, the lawsuit states. She died three days later, according to the news report in The Clarion Ledger.

The power company's lawyers argued that Goretzka "put herself in harm's way" by standing under the power line while making the phone call, The Clarion Ledger news report states. According to the Clarion Ledger report, this verdict is the largest personal injury award in the history of Allegheny County.

"Utility companies have a responsibility to properly train their workers on how to do their jobs and how to apply safety practices across the board", said John Bisnar, founder of the Bisnar | Chase personal injury law firm. "Wrongful death cases not only seek justice and fair compensation for those who are affected by the tragedy, but also shine the spotlight on the hazards others still face.""

While obtaining monetary compensation for victims' families is a primary goal of wrongful death lawsuits, these actions also aim to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future, Bisnar says. "I've represented numerous families that have lost loved ones. For them, the biggest satisfaction is not getting the money, but making a positive change in the way things are done -- righting a wrong so that what happened to their loved one does not happen to anyone else."

About Bisnar | Chase

The California wrongful death lawyers at Bisnar | Chase represent families or victims of wrongful death accidents. The firm has been featured on a number of popular media outlets including Newsweek, Fox, NBC, and ABC and is known for its passionate pursuit of results for their clients. Since 1978, Bisnar | Chase has recovered millions of dollars for victims of serious personal injuries and their families.

For more information, please call 949-203-3814.

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The BISNAR | CHASE Difference

  • “I was in a serious auto accident when I was in law school. I had to hire a personal injury attorney and had a really bad experience.”

    John Bisnar

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “I went to law school knowing I wanted to be a personal injury attorney. I wanted my life’s work to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.”

    Brian Chase

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “Whatever the philosphy of the management is, is going to be carried through by the employees and it’s going to reflect on the experience the clients have.”

    John Bisnar

    on his philosophy on running a law firm

  • “Everybody either drives in a car or rides in a car, so when I do the auto defect cases I really feel like I’m making the world safer by making vehicles safer.”

    Brian Chase

    on why he focuses on auto defect cases

  • “The first thing we want to do with our clients is to relieve the stress. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as an honored guest.”

    John Bisnar

    on how he would define superior client representation

  • “Corporate greed is a reality in our world and I see it time and time again. Especially, with the auto defect cases we focus on.”

    Brian Chase

    on corporate greed and how it affects the consumer

  • “You are dealing with people who are seriously injured or have lost a family member...Compassion is understanding someone else’s situation.”

    John Bisnar

    on the role compassion plays in his profession

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case.

Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in other states through our associations with local law firms. Through the local firm, we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice, meaning "for this particular occasion." When in our client's interest, we employ the local law firm (at no additional cost to our client) to assist us with routine court appearances and discovery proceedings to more efficiently pursue our client's cause.

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