11 So. 51 (La. 1892), 10,925, Clements v. Louisiana Electric Light Company

Docket Nº:10,925
Citation:11 So. 51, 44 La.Ann. 692
Opinion Judge:MCENERY, J.
Party Name:DENNIS CLEMENTS AND WIFE v. LOUISIANA ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY
Attorney:J. R. Beckwith and J. B. Fisher, for Plaintiffs and Appellees. Farrar, Jonas & Kruttschnitt, for Defendant and Appellant.
Case Date:May 01, 1892
Court:Supreme Court of Louisiana
 
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11 So. 51 (La. 1892)

44 La.Ann. 692

DENNIS CLEMENTS AND WIFE

v.

LOUISIANA ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY

No. 10,925

Supreme Court of Louisiana

May 1, 1892

APPEAL from the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. King, J.

J. R. Beckwith and J. B. Fisher, for Plaintiffs and Appellees.

Farrar, Jonas & Kruttschnitt, for Defendant and Appellant.

OPINION

MCENERY, J.

Joseph Clements was killed on the 4th day of October, 1890, by an electric current from the wires of the defendant company while engaged in repairing the gallery roof at the corner of Gravier and Camp streets, in the city of New Orleans.

The plaintiffs, the father and mother of the deceased, sue the defendant company for damages for the death of their son.

There was judgment for the plaintiffs for $ 5000, and the defendant appealed.

Joseph Clements was a tinsmith by occupation. He had been employed to go on the roof of the gallery to repair the same by a contractor.

[44 La.Ann. 693] He was accompanied by another young man, Alfred Anderson.

In half an hour after they went on the roof, Clements was killed by coming in contact with the defendant's wires. Two of defendant's wires run up and down Camp street over the roof of this gallery.

They were two feet four inches above it. They were some seventeen inches distant from each other, and the inside wire was about four feet from the Camp street edge of the gallery.

The wires were fastened to a support or "horse" on the gallery, and the inside wire, to prevent its contact with other wires, was secured to the horse by a piece of telephone wire.

Between the horse and the Gravier street side of the gallery there was, on the inside wire, a joint covered with insulating tape. To all appearances it was in good condition, but had been worn by the exposure to the weather, and had evidently lost some of its insulating properties.

The defects, however, were not visible, but were exhibited during a storm, as shown by the testimony of S.W. Bennett. From his testimony it is shown that the insulating tape had been defective for a considerable time. He occupied a room fronting on the roof, and forbid his employees from going on it on account of the want of proper and safe insulation over the wires.

Clements and his companion were engaged in cleaning the roof, the first in sweeping and the

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other in carrying off the dirt.

The fatal injury to young Clements was rapid in its results, so quick in execution that no witness, not even the witness who was on the roof with him, was able to state with precision his position when he received the shock from the wire. But we think, from all the attendant circumstances, that he was either stepping over the wire or going under it. It is probable that he came in contact with both wires, making a short circuit, increasing the energy of the electric force. The unprotected or uninsulated places which were not visible on the splice in the wire came in contact with his body under the right shoulder blade.

The wires were so close to the roof that to pass from where Clements was first seen sweeping to the gutter, he must either have stepped over or crawled under.

From the distance of the wire above the roof, to step over would in all probability have brought Clements' body in contact...

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