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The Suburbanite
  • Family sues over FirstEnergy worker’s death

  • The family of a FirstEnergy worker killed on the job two years ago has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Akron-based utility.

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  • The family of a FirstEnergy worker killed on the job two years ago has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Akron-based utility.
    The estate of Raymond M. Houle is seeking compensatory and punitive damages each in excess of $25,000, saying his death was the result of several safety violations.
    Houle, 53, of Clinton, was electrocuted in May 2011 while repairing a buried power line on Tell Drive in Canal Fulton.
    The line had been de-energized, but a supervisor ordered the repair crew to remove safety guards and set up a temporary above-ground connection —  a “string-out” — to restore power to homes on the street until the repair was finished. That caused electricity to feed back into the wire on which Houle had been working,  according to the lawsuit.
    After being told it was safe to resume working, Houle touched the line and was killed, said Brian Zimmerman, an attorney for the family.
    The complaint alleges FirstEnergy didn’t train its workers to do the “string-out” safely and says Houle’s supervisor failed to have the crew verify that the correct circuit had been energized.
    The same supervisor ordered a “string-out” in 2007 that led to the injury of another worker, and therefore knew the danger involved in such a procedure, according to the lawsuit.
    FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
    The case, filed Wednesday, is assigned to Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione.