Construction worker Jeptha McGee files suit against the city of Almeda

ALAMEDA, Calif., June 25, 2004 — Construction worker Jeptha Anderson McGee filed a lawsuit June 21, 2004 in Alameda Superior Court against the City of Alameda, CA. and the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA). He alleges that on July 15, 2003, as a consequence of the negligent conduct of the Defendants’ employees and agents, he hit an underground energized electrical line while using a drill at the Alameda Point construction site (formerly the Naval Air Station, Alameda) causing him to sustain severe electrical injuries. He seeks unspecified general and special damages. His father, Dan L. McGee, is acting as his guardian ad litem. Plaintiff is represented by Bruce A. Broillet and Christine D. Spagnoli with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene, Broillet, Panish & Wheeler, LLP. McGee vs. The City of Alameda, Case No. RGO 4161599.

As a Department of the City of Alameda, Alameda Power and Telecom (APT) is controlled by the City’s Public Utility Board and provides electrical and telecommunications services to the City, including service to the Naval Air Station, Alameda (NAS Alameda). ARRA is a municipal governing body comprised of the City of Alameda’s Mayor and City Council members. It was established to negotiate the conveyance of NAS Alameda’s property from the United States Navy to the City of Alameda, and to oversee the conversion and redevelopment of the former base into a mixed-use development (now called the Alameda Point).

Jeptha McGee, then age 26, was working as a laborer for Stockton, CA-based Charles B. Sanford Construction and Electrical Company (Sanford Construction) which had been hired as a sub-contractor by Mobile Modular Management Corporation to help install modular buildings near the 600 block of West Ranger, City of Alameda, CA. (“600 block”) as part of the City’s re-development project for the former Alameda Naval Air Station.

On July 15, 2003, several APT employees were present at the site where trenching and digging were being carried out by employees of Sanford Construction. Alameda Power was there specifically to (1) protect the electrical systems and equipment on the premises from any damage as a result of the construction activities; and to (2) identify the locations of underground electric utilities and to identify appropriate locations for the employees of the contractors and subcontractors on the site to dig trenches and to drill both to protect the public and the construction workers and to avoid the risk of injury from inadvertent contact with any underground electrical lines and equipment.

McGee alleges that although Alameda Power employees were aware of the location of underground energized electrical lines and were observing the trenching and drilling, they failed to warn or advise him and his co-workers that they were working in a potentially dangerous area or, alternatively, that they failed to de-energize the electrical equipment and lines. Instead, the construction crew was affirmatively told that they were drilling in a safe location. Neither Jeptha McGee or his co-workers were aware that they were trenching and drilling near energized underground utilities.

At approximately 11:00 AM on the morning of July 15th, Jeptha McGee was working in a trench when a drill that he was operating hit an underground energized electrical line while Alameda Power and Telecom employees were standing nearby, observing the operations. McGee suffered extensive physical injuries, including amputation of his left arm, lower right leg, and transtibial amputation of his left foot. He suffered extensive third degree electrical burns over approximately 20% of his body, requiring skin grafting. He suffered a brain injury and was in a coma for a 17 days, and continues to have neurological deficits, including impaired attention, orientation, visual-perceptual difficulties and cognitive motor problems. As a result of the injuries that he sustained in the accident, Jeptha McGee has been rendered incompetent.

“My son will never be the same again,” said Dan L. McGee. “All that was curious, bright, energetic and wonderful about him has been shattered. What happened to him was crushing. Life goes on and we will do the best that we can for Jeptha. But, it is only right that the City of Alameda step up to the plate and accept responsibility for what occurred. We hope and pray that by that by filing this lawsuit that others will take heed and not repeat the egregious mistake made by the City of Alameda.”

“The City of Alameda played Russian roulette with Jeptha McGee’s life,”said Bruce A. Broillet. It bears the responsibility for his injuries because the Alameda Power and Telecom employees did not do the job that they were there to do. The APT failed to advise the crews of the presence of underground electrical lines and, instead, affirmatively told them that they were digging in a safe area. Our client has lost his basic right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we will see to it that he has his day in court.”

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