Brown v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co.

Decision Date17 June 1993
Docket NumberNo. A93A0488,A93A0488
Citation432 S.E.2d 675,209 Ga.App. 99
PartiesBROWN v. SOUTHERN BELL TELEPHONE & TELEGRAPH COMPANY et al.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Samuel W. Oates, Jr., Columbus, for appellant.

Jones, Cork & Miller, C. Ashley Royal, H. Jerome Strickland, Macon, Gray, Gilliland & Gold, T. Cullen Gilliland, John B. Austin, James R. Thompson, Atlanta, for appellees.

SMITH, Judge.

Mason Brown appeals from the grant of summary judgment in favor of Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company and Troup Electrical Membership Corporation in Brown's action to recover damages for injuries sustained after coming into contact with an uninsulated electrical distribution line owned by the EMC. We affirm.

The record shows that the incident occurred late on a Saturday afternoon when Brown, who is employed by a trucking company but also owns and rents out heavy equipment, was delivering a front-end loader to a location along a privately owned roadway. He was driving a dump truck and towing a low-boy trailer, on which the loader had been placed, when an overhead telephone wire owned and maintained by Southern Bell caught on the roof of the loader's cab, preventing Brown from progressing. He looked out the window of his truck and observed the telephone wire moving. He let the truck roll back about six inches to release the tension on the wire in an unsuccessful attempt to free it. He had a radio in his truck on which he could call a trucking company's headquarters or other trucks, but did not use it to call for help because no one was in the office on Saturday, and because freeing the wire himself "didn't look that hard." He then climbed up on the roof of the loader and used a rubber strap from the truck to pull the telephone wire out and free it.

The telephone wire was the lowest of three wires overhead. It was 11'1"' from the ground, as measured after the incident. Above it were an insulated neutral wire and an uninsulated primary, or high-voltage distribution wire, owned by the EMC, which were later determined to be 18'5"' and 21'1"' from the ground, respectively. He had freed the telephone wire and intended to pull it behind him when he made contact with the uninsulated primary wire and was shocked, causing him to fall from the loader's roof to the ground, further injuring himself.

Although Brown could not recall seeing the wires before that day, he observed them as he was driving along the road and noticed them when on the roof of the loader. He testified that the height of his load was over 13'. It was measured after the accident and found to be 13'9"'.

1. A conflict exists in the evidence regarding whether the roadway on which the incident occurred must be considered "subject to truck traffic," which is determinative of the clearance required under industry standards set forth in the National Electrical Safety Code. It is clear, however, that the neutral wire could not have caused the burns, and under either possible standard, Brown has admitted, and his expert has testified, that the primary wire met industry clearance standards.

At the time of the incident, the High Voltage Safety Act, 1 OCGA § 46-3-30 et seq., prohibited the transportation of machinery or equipment within eight feet of uninsulated high-voltage lines unless and until notice was given to the utility by the person responsible for the work and the utility guarded against danger from accidental contact. Former OCGA §§ 46-3-32(a); 46-3-33.

Given that Brown's load was 13'9"' high and the primary wire was 21'1"' from the ground, it is clear that Brown was transporting equipment within eight feet of the uninsulated primary line. The primary line met the clearance standard, and Brown admitted he gave no notice to the EMC either before transporting the load on the roadway or before climbing the loader. Under these circumstances, Brown's claim of negligence...

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7 cases
  • Preston v. Georgia Power Co.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 16, 1997
    ...lines with respect to damage or loss to person or property.' [Cit.]" Id. at 569, 300 S.E.2d 145. Brown v. Southern Bell Tel., etc., Co., 209 Ga.App. 99, 432 S.E.2d 675 (1993), relied upon by the trial court, expressly stated that the earlier version of the High-voltage Safety Act was applic......
  • Kull v. SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA II, LP, A01A2315.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • March 29, 2002
    ...the same time avoid the responsibility for the self-assumed risk." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Brown v. Southern Bell Tel. &c. Co., 209 Ga.App. 99, 101(2), 432 S.E.2d 675 (1993) (truck driver climbing near electrical wires). Kull "tested a known danger," id., which he could have avo......
  • Miller v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • November 18, 2016
    ...same time avoid the responsibility for the self-assumed risk."(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Brown v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. , 209 Ga.App. 99, 101 (2), 432 S.E.2d 675 (1993) (holding that plaintiff's claims barred as a matter of law where he attempted to free a power line from h......
  • Wooten v. Central Georgia Elec. Membership Corp.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • July 15, 1994
    ...under the power line but "way away from the line." We find this case indistinguishable in that respect from Brown v. Southern Bell Tel., etc., 209 Ga.App. 99, 432 S.E.2d 675 (1993), in which both the plaintiff and his expert admitted the power line met industry clearance standards. Id. at 1......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Torts - Cynthia Trimboli Adams and Charles R. Adams, Iii
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 46-1, September 1994
    • Invalid date
    ...plaintiff's were determined to have assumed the risk of their perilous undertakings included: Brown v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 209 Ga. App. 99, 432 S.E.2d 675 (1993) (attempt to free overhead telephone wire from front-end loader near high-voltage electrical lines); Tennison v. Lownde......

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