In September 2011, a 45 year-old JCPenney supervisor in Poughkeepsie was following directions she had been given by an electrical contractor regarding a faulty switch. She was taught to turn a screwdriver in a bypass switch in an electrical circuit panel in order to turn on(or off) all of the lights in the store when another switch by the exit door did not work properly. After many years of following this procedure without incident, on this unlucky day, she was electrocuted, suffered some burns on her arm and developed complex regional pain syndrome. She was unable to return to work and also suffers from depression. We sued the electrical contractor and the facilities management company who hired the contractor.
The electrical contractor vehemently denied ever giving such direction to anyone at the store. Early investigation revealed other employees had also received the same instruction and had done the same maneuver for years, thankfully without injury. JCPenney management claimed they had directed that all employees stop the practice the year before, but the screwdriver was still present contradicting that position.
Our electrical expert examined the components and was able to explain why our client was injured by the faulty switch and why the employees were given poor guidance regarding the use of the screwdriver. The defense expert offered no explanation for the electrocution.
Our firm hired a forensic economist to calculate her lost wages and benefits. We also retained an occupational therapy expert to explain how her injuries and physical limitations result in her decreased ability to perform normal activities of daily living.
Our firm interviewed all the doctors who had examined her on behalf of the worker’s compensation carrier and designated them as our experts for trial. We retained a leading expert on complex regional pain syndrome to explain that entity to the jury and dispel any doubts about the diagnosis.
After opening statements were made to the jury, the case settled for $2,000,000.00.