Canton: Lawsuit filed in death of FirstEnergy worker

4:47 PM, Apr 12, 2013   |    comments
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STARK COUNTY -- The family and the estate of a FirstEnergy worker killed on the job May 21, 2011 has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against FirstEnergy.

His son, Shaun, and the estate of Raymond M. Houle filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Stark County Common Pleas Court and the case has been assigned to Judge Frank Forchione.

They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages each in excess of $25,000, saying his death was the result of several safety violations. Houle's family and estate are being represented by Brian Lee Zimmerman, of the Canton law firm of Schulman, Zimmerman & Associates.

Houle, then-53, of Clinton, was electrocuted just after 9:30 a.m. May 21, 2011 while repairing a buried power line on Tell Drive in Canal Fulton.

Police and fire crews responded to the scene where they found Houle and EMS pronounced him dead at the scene.

Houle was a 20-year employee for Ohio Edison, based out of Massillon line shop. The incident was invesitgated by OSHA, Ohio BWC and FirstEnergy, the parent company of Ohio Edison.

The complaint alleges FirstEnergy didn't train its workers to do the "string-out" safely and says Houle's supervisor failed to have the crew verify that the correct circuit had been energized.

The same supervisor ordered a "string-out" in 2007 that led to the injury of another worker, and therefore knew the danger involved in such a procedure, according to the complaint.

Related story: FirstEnergy: 'Saddened by electrocution death of employee

According to the complaint, the line had been de-energized, but a supervisor ordered the repair crew to remove safety guards and set up a temporary above-ground connection called a "string-out"to restore power to homes on the street until the repair was finished.

That caused electricity to feed back into the wire on which Houle had been working, according to the complaint.

After being told it was safe to resume working, Houle touched the line and was killed.

WKYC-TV

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