In a recent Riverside County case, a jury awarded the estate of a migrant farm worker $4.7 million in damages for his electrocution death while working at a fruit orchard. The 31-year-old man was working as a fruit harvester at the time of his death. He had been provided with a ladder by his employer that he was using to gather fruit from upper branches when it came in contact with a low-hanging power line, electrocuting him.
The lawsuit was filed by the decedent’s estate, the man’s wife and two children as well as a coworker against several defendants, including the site’s supervising company, S&R Farm Labor Contractor, Inc.; the Southern California Edison Company, or SCE, and the property’s owner, Circle K-5 Citrus Ranch/Kelley Trust. Reportedly, the jury took one day to deliberate before coming back with their decision following the five-week trial. In apportioning damages, the jury determined that SCE was 80 percent responsible, the man’s employer was 15 percent responsible and the site’s supervising company was 5 percent responsible. The jury did not hold the property’s owner responsible for any of the damages.