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ELIZABETH F. UPTON, ADMINISTRATRIX OF ESTATE OF JEFFERY LEONARD FAGGARD, DECEASED v. MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION

AUGUST 19, 1987

ELIZABETH F. UPTON, ADMINISTRATRIX OF ESTATE OF JEFFERY LEONARD FAGGARD, DECEASED
v.
MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, P.J.; PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This wrongful death action arises out of a fatal electrocution accident as a young high school graduate encountered a power line on his grandmother's property. Though the dead boy's mother has sued the power company, the evidence wholly failed to show that the lines or the electricity were owned by the power company or that it negligently did or failed to do anything that caused the fatal accident.

 The trial court granted the power company's motion for a directed verdict. We affirm.

 II.

 Jeffery Leonard Faggard was born September 29, 1963. On

 Friday, May 29, 1981, he graduated from Tylertown High School. Five days later he was dead.

 Jeff was living with his grandmother, Mrs. J. L. Bullock, in rural Walthall County, Mississippi. On Wednesday afternoon, June 3, 1981, Jeffery decided that he would electrify the fencing around the pen he had built for his deer dogs. He was working alone. At approximately 4:20 p.m. Jeff was found lying on the tin roof of a shed, adjacent to the dog pen, in the backyard. He was bare chested, with his body from the waist up hanging down between two wires that came to the front of the building. Jeff had been electrocuted.

 Magnolia Electric Power Association (MEPA) supplied electricity to the Bullock home. The wiring bringing electrical current to the Bullock home is set forth in a configuration or schematic drawing attached hereto as Appendix A. In 1955 the wiring had been originally set up so that electricity was fed from MEPA's nearby transformer ("A") through a pole meter on a pole ("B") in the Bullock's back yard. From this pole meter, electricity was then fed to the Bullock home ("C"), a smoke-house in the back yard (Shed No. 1) and a brooder house (Shed No. 2) in the back yard, upon which Jeff was found dead.

 Sometime between the initial installation of the pole meter and Jeff's accident, the meter had been removed and placed on the Bullock home. MEPA had not made this change. When the meter was moved, the wiring at the pole meter, which apparently had theretofore run through breakers in the meter base, was re-routed so that it did not pass through any breakers. This wiring had made it impossible to turn the electricity off going to the buildings in the back yard without turning the transformer off. The wires between which Jeff was found ran from a pole in the back of the smoke-house ("D"), which was fed by wiring from the pole ("B") upon which the meter had been originally installed. And, the rear of the building upon which Jeff was found was used as a support for chicken wire on the side of the dog pen next to the building. The chicken wire extended from the ground to just under and in contact with the flat tin roof of the building, making a ground. This means that the metal roof of the building would complete the grounding circuit if a "hot" wire came in contact with it, creating a very dangerous situation.

 The transformer ("A") wire extending to the original meter pole ("B") belonged to MEPA. All of the remaining wiring, including the wiring Jeff fatally encountered, belonged to the Bullocks and had been installed by the Bullocks.

 In any event, on April 20, 1984, Jeff's mother, Elizabeth F. Upton, acting as administratrix of his estate, filed a wrongful death claim against MEPA in the Circuit Court of Marion County, Mississippi, alleging that MEPA had been negligent and seeking $5,000,000.00 in damages. Upton charged that Jeff's electrocution was the direct result of improper installation and connection of electric wires by MEPA which were connected directly to the wiring which Jeff came into contact with and caused his death.

 In due course the case was transferred to the Circuit Court of Pike County, Mississippi, where trial was held on October 10, 1985.

 At trial, Upton first called Hubert Wood, a service man for MEPA, who described the scene of the accident upon his arrival June 3, 1981. When Wood arrived that day, he found that the pole meter had long ago been disconnected and installed on the house, but the meter had been pulled off the house and placed on the ground. He described where the pole meter and meter base had once been located, and how the wiring had been changed so that the electricity to the buildings in the back yard could not be cut off with the breaker located in the meter base. Wood testified that MEPA had not moved the pole meter. Wood explained that the power company owned all the wiring up to the pole meter and that the power company ...


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