Barnett v. Eagle Helicopters, Inc., 848 P.2d 419 (Idaho 1993)

Plaintiff Raymond Barnett was working a triple-drum machine with the company JOB Line to erect a Taft-Bell 500 kilovolt transmission line in Idaho, for a Bonneville Power Administration project. The contract required JOB to string high voltage lines between the erected towers, which was accomplished using a helicopter to pull the transmission lines from a triple-drum machine. The drum machine operator would pull the line tight across several miles of transmission line towers.

On August 14, 1986, an Eagle Helicopters pilot was threading the transmission lines across a canyon, when the line became caught in some trees. The pilot pulled the lines loose, which caused them to jump a protective guard. The pilot was told to maintain position, but instead lowered the line, causing it to drop onto a live transmission line. The current ran through the line, electrocuting the three-drum puller and Barnett as he was operating the machine. Barnett suffered burns to his ears, fingers, and buttocks, resulting in possibly permanent hearing, sight and memory loss, as well as chronic pain and depression.

Barnett filed a lawsuit against Eagle Helicopters and R.W. Beck and Associates for general negligence. R.W. Beck settled the case, leaving the lawsuit against Eagle. After a 12-day jury trial, Eagle was found 40% negligent, and awarded Barnett damages of $843,040, with an award of Mrs. Barnett of $256,960. Eagle filed a motion for a new trial on the basis that the loss of consortium award was excessive, and the trial court improperly refused to reduce the verdict.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Idaho upheld the trial court’s ruling, finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion by not reducing the award, and in denying a motion for a new trial.

Groves v. Firebird Raceway, Inc., 948 F.Supp. 1385 (D. Idaho 1994)

Gary Groves entered his car in the Pepsi Night Fire National Races held at the Firebird Raceway near Boise, Idaho. The race was sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association. In order to race, he paid an entry fee, and signed a Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement. During the race, Groves lost control of his car, hitting a guardrail and flipping his car over, which caught on fire. A fire truck responded to the accident, putting out the fire. However, Gary Groves had suffered serious burns over 35% of his body.

The plaintiffs, Gary and Kathy Groves filed a lawsuit against Firebird Raceway and the National Hot Rod Association. They allege negligence, including failure to provide adequate and properly trained firefighting personnel, which resulted in a delay putting out the fire. Kathy Groves also sought damages for lack of consortium. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, based on the waiver signed by Groves. The court found in favor of the defendants, granting their motion for summary judgment.

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