$1,180,000 :: Laube v. Clear Channel

SETTLEMENT : Plaintiff contacted power lines while working on billboard

In the summer of 2002, Leo Laube, 23, worked as a billboard installer for Coast Iron & Steel. During this period, his employer was hired by Clear Channel Outdoor to periodically change the advertising signs on several of its billboards. On July 3, 2002, Laube and a co-worker were assigned by their employer to change the sign on one of Clear Channel’s billboards in Santa Fe Springs.

Laube was in the process of removing a 12-foot metal pole from the existing vinyl sign when the pole made contact with power lines just 10 feet away, which electrocuted Laube, causing significant physical and emotional suffering. Laube sustained second- and third- degree burns over approximately 25% of his body, including both of his legs and right hand. The severity of his injuries required him to remain at the hospital for a month where he underwent multiple skin grafting procedures. While he regained much of his pre-accident functioning, he still experienced medical issues many years after the accident. His medical expenses eventually totaled $288,000, and his injuries caused loss of earnings of $478,000.

Laube hired attorney Roger E. Booth of the Law Offices of Booth & Koskoff to represent him in a lawsuit against Clear Channel Outdoor to recoup these damages as well as damages related to pain and suffering.

The lawsuit claimed that Clear Channel caused the accident due to their failure of providing safe equipment on the billboard in question. The company used metal “tensioning poles” which was in direct violation corporate policy mandating the use of fiberglass poles. The Plaintiffs likewise contended that those poles should have been of a much shorter length so as not to have risked reaching the power lines at all.

In rebuttal, Clear Channel’s defense team argued that the accident was the result of Laube’s own negligence in removing the pole towards the power lines rather than towards the billboard’s center. The defense claimed that Laube’s supervisor had specifically warned him and his co-worker earlier that day to stay away from the power lines and that it was Coast Iron & Steel’s responsibility to properly train the plaintiff in the correct and safe method of removing tensioning poles.

Ultimately, the case settled out of court on behalf of the Plaintiff. Booth and his team secured a total settlement of $1,180,000 on behalf of his client.

Article [PDF]