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Utility company cleared of installers’ deaths

Industry News | December 1, 2008 | By:

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) of Little Rock, Ark., has been cleared of liability for the deaths of two men who were killed while moving a fully assembled tent during a 2004 festival in Fayetteville, Ark. In total, three people died and three were injured in the accident.

Northwest Arkansas’ The Morning News reports that the two men’s estates sued the electric company, arguing that it was foreseeable that someone could come in contact with the power line, and that SWEPCO should have recognized the need for additional safety measures.

Representatives for SWEPCO said the company wasn’t aware that large tents were being used at the event, nor that the tents would be moved — fully assembled — near the power line.

The court ruled that the power company was not responsible for the deaths because there was no indication the company knew or should have known about the risk of the type of accident that resulted in the men’s deaths. The court also cited the fact that SWEPCO was not notified that work would be done that close to its power line.

The tent rental company, Intents Inc. of Fayetteville, settled claims out of court. Another man — a supervisor for Intents — also died in the Oct. 2004 accident.

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