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Case Over Electric Shock to Carpenter Settles for $2.5 Mil.

P.J. D’Annunzio, The Legal Intelligencer

July 14, 2014

The case of a carpenter who was injured after sustaining an electric shock on the job—and who was also alleged to have developed ALS as a result of the shock—has been settled with property owners and electricians for $2.5 million.

The plaintiff in Gallagher v. Barrett & Williams Electric, a case in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, settled with property owner defendants Keystone Devon Square Associates, B&R Devon Owner and Keystone Property Group as well as with the electrical contracting defendant Barrett & Williams Electric prior to trial.

Brenda A. Gallagher, the widow of Cornelius A. Gallagher, was represented by Thomas F. Sacchetta and Bruce H. MacKnight of Media, Pa.-based Sacchetta & Baldino. She claimed that an electric shock from an unmarked live wire connected to a ceiling on which Cornelius Gallagher was working caused him to fall to the floor below, resulting in severe shoulder injuries. The plaintiff further alleged that Gallagher developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as a result of the shock.

Sacchetta told The Legal that Gallagher died as a result of ALS before the conclusion of the case. According to the plaintiff’s pretrial memorandum, on May 28, 2009, Gallagher was working on replacing a ceiling grid in a property owned by Keystone. While doing so, court papers said, Gallagher attempted to remove a 277-volt, metal-encased wire leading to ceiling lights. Gallagher, who allegedly did not know the wire was energized, sustained an electric shock and fell three feet, landing on the concrete floor and an empty tool bucket.

Shortly after the shoulder injury occurred, Sacchetta said, Gallagher began to have issues with his speech.

Sacchetta said, “Over the next several months he gets concerned, he seeks out his family doctor, goes to a neurologist, and found out he had ALS.”

Sacchetta added he argued that the electrical current caused Gallagher’s ALS or exacerbated a predisposition toward the disease.

“Our expert had indicated that the literature supports that [electric shock] … could be a precipitating event to some neurological disease, like ALS,” Sacchetta said. The attorney for Keystone, Glenn M. Campbell of Blue Bell, Pa.-based William J. Ferren & Associates, declined to comment. Barrett & Williams was represented by Warren E. Voter of Sweeney & Sheehan in Philadelphia, who did not return a call seeking comment.

According to the property owners’ pretrial memorandum, “At no point in his deposition did Mr. Gallagher testify that he believed that the owners or property manager for the site had a responsibility to make the work area safe, whether with regard to electricity or otherwise.”

Reprinted with permission from the “ISSUE DATE” edition of the “PUBLICATION.” © “2014” ALM Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.

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