• West Penn settles fatal power line case for $105M


    West Penn Power has agreed to drop its appeal of a $109 million verdict in the death of a Hempfield Township woman killed by a falling power line in front of her two young daughters and will pay $105 million instead -- as well as inspecting its lines for the kind of dangerous splices that caused the woman's death in June 2009.

    A West Penn spokesman has confirmed the proposed settlement, which was announced Wednesday by Shanin Specter, the Philadelphia attorney representing the family of 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka.

    "The financial compensation is important for a lot of reasons, but it doesn't replace Carrie as a mother, a wife a daughter and daughter-in-law. She was the glue of that family," said Specter.

    An Allegheny County jury in December found West Penn workers didn't properly splice a power line over Goretzka's back yard in Irwin, causing it to fall on her while her daughters and mother-in-law looked on helplessly.

    "This line had fallen twice before in the last six years. Mike Goretzka had gone to the power company and said he was concerned for his family's safety," said Spector.

    West Penn Power plans to inspect all power lines with heat sensors and retrain all linemen on how to properly install the lines.

    “The linemen are to be re-trained now within a year, and they are to be periodically re-trained,” Specter said.

    Specter said the settlement is "West Penn saying the jury got it right."

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