Electric utility not responsible for dropping wire that draped over road, striking motorcyclists
Steven Shievely and his wife Carol were biking on Springbrook Road in Jackson County when they struck a nearly-downed electrical power line operated by Consumers Power. The line had drooped to within three feet of the ground after a tree limb struck a cross-arm on the utility pole, fracturing the cross-arm and causing the line to hang slackly over the road.
The trial court dismissed the motorcyclists' case because they had not hired an adequate expert witness to testify that Consumers' maintenance practices were adequate. The expert they did hire was a former Consumers Power Company employee who testified that the Company's safety practices were unreasonable and not in conformity with the National Electric Safety Code. The Court ruled, however, that he did not have enough hand's-on experience with forestry practices, utility line maintenance or the maintenance standards used by other Michigan utilities to quailify him to explain to the jury what Consumers did wrong.