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Pa. teacher's tragic electrocution death leads to major lawsuit

The family of a Pa. teacher electrocuted in his own backyard in July is now suing Met-Ed, alleging negligence by the power company, including failure to properly install and maintain the hardware that was supposed to keep the power line aloft and not updating equipment to the most recent technology.

The suit, stemming from an incident in Northampton County, seeks money damages to compensate the family of 31-year-old Thomas Poynton Jr. and to “punish” the defendants so that “these utilities reform their conduct to ensure safe delivery of electric power to the community,” our sister website, LehighValleyLive.com, writes, adding:

Poynton was electrocuted after a power line fell in his backyard. This, after he ran into the backyard after one of his dogs and was shocked by the charged ground, knocking him off his feet, according to the lawsuit.

His body was repeatedly shocked until Met-Ed shut off the power to the 34,000-volt transmission line that was directly connected to a substation next door to his property, the suit says.

The ground was still live when firefighters arrived and they initially weren’t allowed to step there until Met-Ed opened the breakers, dissipating the electricity within seconds, the company previously said. The rear of the Poynton house also caught fire.

The suit points out that there were “no adverse weather conditions” on July 26, but there were torrential rains the day before, leaving the ground saturated, LehighValleyLive.com notes.

Victim Thomas Poynton, 31 

The lawsuit is filed by Shanin Specter, Kila Baldwin and Dominic Guerrini of the Philadelphia-based firm Kline & Specter PC. In a press release the firm said:

“This was a terrible death suffered by a husband, father and teacher who was loved by so many. Thomas Poynton’s death was preventable, had Met-Ed and First Energy properly installed, maintained and inspected its power line, especially such a high-voltage line coming from one of its power substations.”


The lawsuit contends that the victim’s wife, Sarah Poynton, suffered physical and mental trauma and her mother suffered mental trauma, leading to sleeplessness, anxiety and depression for both of them, the lawsuit says.

Sarah Poynton is suing for wrongful death and both are suing for “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” Both plaintiffs are asking for “in excess of $50,000,” with the claim pointing to lost lifetime earnings and companionship.

Thomas Poynton is survived by his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Anna Jane, who was 20 months old when her father died.

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