A power company has agreed to pay $27 million dollars to settle a lawsuit in connection with a fire that killed one worker and trapped three others atop a 976-foot-tall smokestack for four hours.
American Electric Power (AEP) agreed to the settlement just as jury selection had started in the case.
On March 4, 2006, Gerald Talbert was working in a cage inside of the stack when the fire broke out. Rescuers didn’t find his body until two days later.
Three other workers were stuck atop the stack at AEP’s Kammer-Mitchell power plant in Marshall County, WV, until a helicopter flew in to rescue them. Talbert’s widow and two of the other workers filed the lawsuit. Most of the money will go to Talbert’s family.
The lawsuit accused the company of negligence and claimed it knew working conditions inside the stack were dangerous.
The suit claimed Talbert died because of a defective cable on the lift that controlled his work cage.
The lawyer representing widow Tiffani Talbert said AEP representatives apologized to the Talbert family after the settlement.
AEP also said that as a result of Talbert’s death, it has changed the safety rules and culture at the plant.