PG&E not responsible for power line-kite injury

March 19, 2009 1:17:48 PM PDT
The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco today that a Santa Clara County woman cannot seek to hold Pacific Gas and Electric Co. responsible for injuries suffered by a boy who touched a power line on her property with a metal pole while trying to retrieve a kite.

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The accident occurred in 1998, when Joshua Jackson was 10 years old and was flying a kite with a friend.

The wind blew the kite to the neighboring property of the friend's grandmother, Eve Prince, and the kite became entangled on a power line. PG&E owned an easement to maintain the power line on the property.

Jackson tried to retrieve the kite with an aluminum pole he found in the yard and was seriously injured when the pole touched the electric line.

In an earlier case, the boy's family sought to sue PG&E, but an appeals court ruled that PG&E was not liable under state law because the boy was using PG&E's property easement for recreational purposes.

Jackson then sought to sue Prince in Santa Clara County Superior Court, and she in turn sought to sue PG&E for failing to maintain the easement properly.

But the state high court ruled unanimously that just as PG&E was protected from being sued by Joshua, it was also protected from being sued by Prince.

Justice Marvin Baxter wrote, "We conclude, as a matter of law, that PG&E's immunity under (the law) bars Prince's claim."

Baxter said the law provides that an easement holder "owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose."

The ruling leaves the boy's lawsuit against Prince pending in Superior Court.

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