Electrocution death civil trial starts

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A civil trial involving the electrocution death of a utility worker got under way Monday afternoon with opening statements.

Glennis Marsaw, 21, was reportedly electrocuted Feb. 7, 1997, while working on a Mississippi Department of Transportation light pole near the bridge.

One of the defendant’s attorneys said the pole on which Marsaw was working got out of hand, tipped over and made contact with high-voltage Entergy cables.

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Marsaw’s family members are suing MDOT and Entergy.

“We’re alleging the Entergy line was dangerous,” plaintiff’s attorney Bryan Callaway said. “The whole question is was the line dangerous as it was constructed, and should (MDOT and Entergy) have foreseen the danger?”

Marsaw was working for a private electrical contractor, and he and others didn’t follow procedure, Entergy attorney Jack Price said.

Under Mississippi law, any contractors planning to work within 10 feet of a power line should call the power company, Price said.

“They did not think they were going to be within 10 feet, so they did not give Entergy notice,” Price said.

“That line could have been made as harmless as this desk,” Price said, pointing to the court reporter’s table.

On top of that, the crew was one man short, and it was raining and slippery, he said.

“They were doing everything wrong,” Price said. “How many things have to go wrong before something happens? It was a tragic accident, and we’re all saddened we have to be here today. But the fault lies somewhere else other than with Entergy.”

Callaway said his side admitted the crew hadn’t called Entergy before starting work, but they thought they didn’t need to.

“You can only do your best — that’s all you can ask a man or a woman to do,” Callaway said. “I ask you to listen to the proof before you make a decision.”

Circuit Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders said during jury selection she expected the trial to end before Friday.