Julien v. P. H. Freeman & Sons
Congratulations John Daly for obtaining Final Summary Judgment for Defendant, P.H. Freeman & Sons, in a wrongful death action brought by the Estate of Delima Julien.
Julien allegedly died from electrocution while picking oranges as an employee of Freeman in a grove owned by W.W. Leach Family. At the time of his death, Julien was on an 18 foot aluminum ladder, picking from a tree that was “within touching distance” of a 14,000 volt power line owned by Sumter Electric Cooperative (SECO). Julien’s Estate filed a wrongful death action against Freeman, Leach and SECO.
Plaintiff asserted that Julien had been electrocuted and presented testimony from two witnesses and a pathology expert. The Medical Examiner determined that Julien had died of natural causes, specifically a heart attack. However, following a conference with Plaintiff’s counsel and expert pathologist, she amended her conclusion and ruled that the cause of death was electrocution. A corporate representative for Freeman sustained a severe electrical injury during Plaintiff’s inspection of the scene. As the representative was attempting to place a ladder against the same tree as Julien, the ladder made contact with the power line. Plaintiff attempted to leverage the Freeman rep’s electrical contact injury by arguing it was relevant to causation and the existence of a dangerous condition. The Parties argued several motions related to this occurrence. Freeman filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff’s cause of action against Freeman was barred by workers’ compensation immunity. Plaintiff argued that Freeman’s conduct met the intentional tort exception and that Freeman was estopped from asserting immunity as a result of Freeman’s denial of Julien’s workers’ compensation claim.
Lake County Circuit Court Judge Dan R. Mosely granted Freeman’s motion for Summary Judgment and ruled that Freeman enjoyed workers’ compensation immunity and that denial of the workers’ compensation claim had not estopped it from asserting the immunity defense.
Verdict Date: May 26, 2020