Settlement reached in Macon woman’s 2012 electrocution

awomack@macon.comMarch 24, 2014 

A 3-year-old girl whose mother was electrocuted in 2012 while swimming beside a dock at Lake Sinclair will receive proceeds from a $300,000 annuity as part of a settlement from a wrongful death lawsuit against the dock’s owners.

The administrator of 25-year-old Devin Olivia Powers’ estate filed the lawsuit last year, seeking attorneys’ fees, court costs and unspecified punitive damages against CBM Investments Inc., property owner Carey B. Merrell and three John Does.

According to the settlement documents filed last week, Powers’ mother is set to receive about $36,000 for funeral bills and legal fees.

The defendants have agreed to pay about $126,000 in legal fees and expenses, about $3,000 in medical bills and $5,000 to a Macon lawyer acting as conservator for the estate, according to the records, filed in Bibb County Superior Court.

Powers, who lived in Macon, was visiting a friend on May 5, 2012, when the women went to a nearby home and swam near a neighbor’s dock.

The dock’s flooring recently had been replaced, and an outlet box was lying on the decking, along with a bare wire, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Trent Speckhals, an Atlanta lawyer representing Powers’ estate, has said Powers touched the dock while treading water and came in contact with either the outlet box or wire.

The lawsuit alleged negligence and that Powers was electrocuted due to improper or dangerous wiring.

Merrell’s lawyer, Charles Medlin, said although the defense doesn’t believe Merrell to be at fault, Merrell wanted to help Powers’ daughter.

“We all wish her and their extended family the very best during this difficult time,” Medlin said in an emailed statement. “This was an unusual death, and we are not sure what exactly happened, but nonetheless, we feel terrible about this unfortunate event.”

Merrell told The Telegraph last year that a chain was blocking the driveway and that Powers and her friend were trespassing.

He said work recently had been performed on the dock, but there were no bare wires.

Speckhals said Powers’ death could have been easily prevented with a ground fault circuit interrupter, a simple and inexpensive safety device required by building code.

“We hope that all dock owners will learn from this tragedy” and ensure their docks are equipped with the device, he said in an emailed statement.

Although no amount of money can make up for Powers’ death, “we were able to ensure that her daughter’s future needs and education are financially secure,” Speckhals said.

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