LegalSpeak: Koch v. Norris Public Power District (Neb. App. 2001)

Negligence Read more from
Chapter Personal Injury Law

The thread that runs through all of the above-cited cases, i.e., all the cases we found on the subject, is that powerlines do not normally fall without fault on behalf of the company that maintains them and that res ipsa loquitur is applied in the absence of a substantial, significant, or probable explanation (but this standard seems to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). Generally in the cases which hold the doctrine does not apply, the reasons cited for that conclusion have to do with the powerlines not being under the exclusive control of the power company, which is really a consideration under the second element of res ipsa loquitur, or that the powerline was caused to be down by the act of the plaintiff, of nature, or of some third party, which is a reason usually treated under the third element of res ipsa loquitur. However, all of the above-cited cases seem to be based upon the proposition that, and the majority rule seems to be, if a powerline falls without explanation, then the fall is attributed to the power company if that line is under the exclusive control of the power company. In other words, powerlines do not, in the ordinary course of events, fall in the absence of negligence.


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