An Illinois appellate court recently held that a jury should decide whether Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) is responsible for injuries sustained by a police officer while he was directing traffic away from a downed power line. The appellate court reversed a trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the electric company based on the “fireman’s rule.” The ruling allowed the injured officer, and his personal injury lawyer, to pursue an injury action against ComEd
The case, James Lurgio v. Commonwealth Edison Co., No 1-08-0612, (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2009), was filed by a McCook Police Officer who responded to a call of a downed power line in May 2003. ComEd was notified, and the officer was waiting for a ComEd employee to arrive at the scene. Whereas a ComEd employee stated that someone from the company would arrive within 45 minutes, someone did not arrive for 97 minutes. While he was waiting, the power line struck a street light causing the light to explode and fall. The officer was fortunate not to have been electrocuted. Still, the officer injured his knee while he was running from the scene. The knee injury was severe enough to force the officer to retire from the police department.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that ComEd failed to terminate the power source in a reasonable amount of time. In response, ComEd argued that the “fireman’s rule” barred the officer’s case: the fireman’s rule prohibits public officers from recovering damages for negligent acts that caused an emergency situation. The trial court dismissed the case based on the fireman’s rule.
The appellate court reversed, holding that a jury should decide whether ComEd shut off the power in a reasonable amount of time. The court held that the fireman’s rule did not apply because the officer’s injury was separate and distinct from the alleged negligence that caused the emergency, citing Jackson v. Urban Investment Property Services, 362 Ill. App. 3d 88. To speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney regarding a potential action based on electrocution or other serious injury, contact Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.