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West Penn appeals $109M Hempfield Twp. electrocution verdict


West Penn Power Co. is appealing a $109 million verdict for the surviving family of a western Pennsylvania woman who was fatally burned by a downed power line in her own back yard as her daughters and mother-in-law looked on.

The verdict awarded in the 2009 death of 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka, of Hempfield Township, was the largest ever in Allegheny County.

Among other things, West Penn attorneys argued the trial judge erred by allowing the jury to see "gruesome" photos of Goretzka and also takes issue with the closing argument made by the plaintiff's attorney Shanin Specter. West Penn contends Specter's comments were full of "outrages" meant to inflame the jury.

Specter says West Penn would do better to focus on maintaining its power lines better so they don't kill anybody else.