Vitrano v. Florida Power & Light Company, ___ So. 3d ___, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D732 (Fla. 4th DCA March 25, 2015)
A homeowner hired the decedent to trim his trees. The decedent was electrocuted when a palm frond came into contact with an overhead electrical wire, and the widow sued FP&L for wrongful death. The jury returned a verdict for FP&L, and the appellate court affirmed over the plaintiff’s objection that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that FP&L’s violations of the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) constituted negligence per se. The provisions in question dealt with recording and remedying defects and trimming trees. “NESC section 214 requires FPL to inspect and discover defects in its lines and equipment and to remedy these defects promptly. This general regulation is not intended to protect a particular class of persons from a specific type of injury. Its general provisions create a duty on FPL to keep its equipment in good repair. It does not create a duty to take precautions to protect a particular class of persons from a particular type of injury. Section 218 requires the trimming of trees to protect the electrical lines. It does not establish any safety procedures regarding how to trim the trees. And while it places a duty on the electric company to trim the trees, the code provision is not for the protection of the tree trimmer but for the general public who might come into contact with the vegetation close to the power lines in a variety of ways, such as children climbing trees. It also is directed to the protection of the equipment of the power company from the danger of contact between the trees and the power line.” Because the NESC provisions in issue “were not directed to a particular category of persons,” the doctrine of negligence per se was inapplicable.
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