PITTSBURGH — West Penn Power has agreed to drop its appeal of a $109 million verdict in the death of a woman who was fatally burned by a falling power line in front of her two young daughters and will pay $105 million instead, as well as inspect its lines for the kind of dangerous splices that caused the deadly line failure in 2009.
A West Penn spokesman has confirmed the proposed settlement, which was announced today by Shanin Specter, the Philadelphia attorney representing the family of 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka.
An Allegheny County jury in December found West Penn workers didn’t properly splice a power line over Goretzka’s backyard in Irwin, causing it to fall on her while her daughters and mother-in-law looked on helplessly.
Goretzka, 39, was killed when she went outside to make a cell phone call when she saw a backyard tree burning because the line had again overheated, cutting power to her house in June 2009. Michael Goretzka, her husband, testified at her wrongful death trial in December, that he had complained about the line failing at least twice before and the jury agreed those failures were caused by West Penn technicians who didn’t properly clean the power lines with a wire brush before splicing them, which prompted rust that caused the splice to overheat and fail.