Timmons v. Ohio Power Company and American Electric Power Service Corporation (Marshall County, West Virginia)
A Marshall County, West Virginia jury awarded a verdict of $6,998,940 to the family of Lewis Timmons, a 61-year old resident of Tyler County, West Virginia, who was killed as a result of an explosion in the hydrogen storage area of the Muskingum River power plant owned by the American Electric Power Services Corporation. The jury awarded the family of Lewis Timmons nearly $2,000,000 in compensatory damages, and $5,000,000 in punitive damages. The jury also declared that the estate was entitled to attorney fees.
On August 16, 2011, attorney Geoffrey Brown (Bordas and Bordas) told Judge David W. Hummel a panel of eight jurors during his opening statement, “You will hear that both the Ohio Power Company and the American Electric Power Service Corporation violated their duty of due care and caused the explosion to happen resulting in the death of Mr. Timmons and the destruction of his personal property.”
Mr. Brown explained the inner workings of hydrogen storage systems at power plants and noted specifically the inherent dangers in the defendant’s roof above its hydrogen system and its use of weak copper relief stacks. He also described a similar explosion that occurred in December 2005 at a plant in Moundsville, West Virginia, which prompted safety recommendations that were not acted upon by either defendant.
According to Mr. Brown, the defendant’s decision to neglect known safety concerns at the plant resulted in the fatal explosion that took place on January 8, 2007.
Representing the defendants, defense attorney, Brian Swiger (Jackson Kelly) claimed that the American Electric Power Service Corporation was not provided with notice of any dangers present in its roof or its copper relief stacks.
Mr. Swiger told jurors that the defendants, instead, relied on the expertise of General Hydrogen, the inspector for their hydrogen gas system. He claimed that General Hydrogen never gave the American Electric Power Service Corporation any notice of dangers or “urgent needs” for improvement.
Geoffrey Brown (Bordas and Bordas) and Chris Regan (Bordas and Bordas) appeared on behalf of the plaintiff’s estate. Brian Swiger (Jackson Kelly) appeared on behalf of the defendants.
A two-week civil trial ensued with testimony from numerous experts, including compressed gas experts. Gavel to gavel coverage is available from Courtroom View Network.
Tags: Negligence, Utility Company liability, Personal injury, Wrongful death, Electric Power Liability, Explosion, Power Plant Liability, Power Plant explosion, Verdict, Punitive Damages, safety, Hydrogen