Susan K. Morrison, Executor on Behalf of The Estate of Max L. Morrison; Susan K. Morrison, Executor on Behalf of Susan K. Morrison; Susan K. Morrison, Executor on Behalf of Brian L. Morrison and Michael S. Morrison v. Grundy County Rural Electric Cooperative
Iowa District Court for Tama County
File No. LACV 007392

The Plaintiffs’ brought a wrongful death action against Grundy County Rural Electric Cooperative (REC) seeking $5,000,000.00 in damages arising from the death of Max Morrison and the injuries he incurred prior to his death.

Morrison was a passenger in a light sports aircraft that struck power lines owned by the REC. Morrison sustained significant burn injuries and was life-flighted to the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center. He lived for approximately five weeks and died.

At trial, the Plaintiffs argued that the REC breached a duty to warn the pilot and the passenger of the presence of the power lines, which included the allegation that the power lines should have been marked with orange marker balls.

The REC argued that its power lines were properly located and that there was no Federal Aviation Regulation which required the lines to be marked. The REC also argued that the cause of the accident was the fault of the pilot.

Trial commenced on May 15, 2017 and a jury verdict was entered on May 25, 2017 awarding no damages. The jury found that the REC was negligent, but that its negligence was not the cause of any damages to the Plaintiffs.

Multiple experts were used in the case. The experts who testified on behalf of the Plaintiffs were 1) Warren DeHaan, O.D. whose specialty includes aviation vision; 2) Raymond Syms, Heli Experts International, LLC – Aeronautical consulting services; 3) Dr. G. Patrick Kealey; University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center; and 4) Dr. Michael Sandberg, an economist. Experts who testified on behalf of the REC included Matthew Kenner, Senior Managing Consultant for ESI who is an expert in the investigation and reconstruction of aircraft accidents; Gregory A. Feith an international aviation safety expert; Mitchell Garber, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.M.E., Senior Managing Consultant at ESI with over 20 years of military and civilian experience in transportation accident investigation; and Eric Jackson, P.E., a licensed professional electrical engineer.

 

Iowa Fellow Gregory R. Brown is a shareholder and co-founder of Duncan, Green, Brown & Langeness, P.C., practicing in the area of civil litigation. He has attained an AV preeminent rating from Martindale- Hubbell. Mr. Brown has over 38 years of experience representing clients in all aspects of civil trial law, including extensive jury trial and appellate work. Many of his cases involve the defense of tort claims against electric utilities.